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Monday Jun 25, 2018

Derelict Joburg buildings to be turned into low-cost units

The City of Joburg is to intensify its drive in identifying and expropriating hijacked and abandoned buildings in the inner city.

There is currently a shortage of 30 000 housing units in the CBD.

At a special council meeting on Friday, the city released 71 city-owned properties to be converted into low-cost housing. This was in addition to 13 others released earlier this year.

Joburg has conducted an audit of some 500 bad buildings, 84 of which have been confirmed as hijacked.

Mayor Herman Mashaba said the city would continue to intensify multidisciplinary raids on hijacked buildings to fight criminal slum lords "who live off the desperate needs of residents".

Some 24 hijacked properties have been handed back to their rightful owners, he said, adding that the private sector would submit tenders.

To guarantee oversight as well as ensure that unscrupulous developers do not benefit at the expense of the city and its residents, buildings will be provided on a long-term lease basis to ensure that the buildings are developed and that the rentals are affordable for low-income households, the mayor pointed out.

The city will consider the following in the awarding of the tenders:

  • B-BBEE certification.

  • Size of the investment.

  • Number of units to be constructed.

  • Breakdown and the affordability of rentals.

  • Number of jobs created in the construction phase.

  • Number of artisans to be trained in the duration of construction.

  • Commitment to providing student accommodation in close proximity to campuses and along public transportation routes.

    "Undoubtedly, one of the highest challenges we face in the inner city is access to affordable housing and the increase in hijacked buildings," Mashaba said.

    "Through the Inner-City Housing Implementation Plan we are set to make the inner-city housing market work better for the poor," he added.

    Public-private partnerships, however, are crucial to this approach and the management of these relationships between the city, the developers and the community will be key to ensuring that the pro-poor principle of the project is upheld, the mayor said.

    "The city is taking all possible steps to determine who the real owners of the hijacked buildings are in order to begin the process of reclaiming these spaces.

    "Where owners cannot be identified, the city will look to expropriate these buildings to utilise them for housing development," Mashaba said.

    Housing for low-income earners was a priority for the city of Joburg, he pointed out.

    During the recent 2018/19 budget address, it was also announced that a draft policy had been proposed that every new development of 10 dwelling units or more must have 20% inclusionary housing for those earning R7 000 a month or less.

    The EFF has given the city a month in which to expropriate all hijacked and abandoned buildings and to turn them into student accommodation.

    Silumko Mabona, the EFF's Joburg regional secretary, said the party had noted the city's view on the expropriation of abandoned buildings, and called on the city to mandate Johannesburg Social Housing Company (Joshco) to refurbish the buildings and convert them to affordable housing and student accommodation.

    "A better managed Joshco with a focused leadership and headed by a chief executive who doesn't behave as if he's a law unto himself, can drive the rejuvenation of Joburg," Mabona said.

    Anna Cox
    The Star

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