UN award for Joburg Housing Company

29 September 2010

The Johannesburg Social Housing Company is to receive the world’s most prestigious human settlements accolade, the United Nations’ 2010 Scroll of Honour award, for its holistic approach to providing shelter, which has benefited almost 30 000 people around the city.

The UN’s Scroll of Honour awards recognise initiatives that have made outstanding contributions in various fields such as shelter provision, highlighting the plight of homelessness, and leadership in post-conflict reconstruction.

The 2010 awards will be presented in Shanghai, China on Monday, 4 October.

The Johannesburg Social Housing Company (Joshco) was established by the City of Johannesburg in 2004 to provide affordable rental housing to the lower-income market in order to help eradicate South Africa’s housing backlog.

It has been active in several project sites, including in Orlando, Soweto and Industria West, where former hostels have been converted into 213 family apartments. At present, it manages more than 5 000 affordable rental accommodation units, and has reduced default on payments from 87 percent to only 6 percent since it started operating in 2006.

The company’s annual budget is about R175-million.

Joshco’s chief executive officer, Rory Gallocher, said Johannesburg faced a lot of pressure in delivering good quality and affordable housing.

“It makes a big difference to know that we are doing something right because it is often possible to get buried in the detail and forget that we have many counterparts all over the world who are wrestling with similar problems,” Gallocher said. “But it is important for us to count our victories when they come along so that we realise that we are making progress.”

Gallocher said the agency’s application to be considered for the award was a test to see if the past six years of work had made an impact. “We thought it would be interesting to compare our efforts with other initiatives around the world.”

The group was planning to push for more opportunities to develop more affordable stock, he added.

“Our focus right now is on reducing the costs and increasing the revenues. This is important so that we can stretch the budgets as far as possible so that the improved service delivery can be felt by more families in Johannesburg.”

Source: City of Johannesburg