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Monday May 14, 2012

New vision elevates Cape social housing

Social housing goes way beyond just providing a roof over people's heads.

It's a means of improving and upgrading entire communities and creating opportunities for more efficient commerce and industry, says Communicare social housing and community development director Joel Mkunqwana.

He was commenting on the company's new R55 million social housing project at Bothasig Gardens, where work is well advanced on 120 new apartments on a 2.5-hectare site in the suburb.

The apartments are in six separate double-storey buildings, designed to provide highquality comfortable accommodation at monthly rentals from as low as R650. Tenants will be able to move in by November.

"Our objective was to build the apartments as an example of how large-scale, affordable rental accommodation could create a focus of excellence in a community," said Mkunqwana.

"The new apartments will also enable people who previously had to travel huge distances to get to their workplaces quickly, ensuring greater efficiencies. And generally, communities come to life in the late afternoon and evening, and the sooner people reach home, the sooner they are able to socialise and help build community spirit. It makes for a safer environment," he said.

Retail and other amenities are also within easy reach of the residents at Bothasig Gardens.

The new apartments will be integrated with the existing Kent Durr complex of retirement cottages, increasing the number of housing units to 285. Very strict criteria governing the conduct of tenants have been applied and Mkunqwana said a high level of social responsibility is expected from the people who will live there.

One of the most important considerations at Bothasig Gardens is that rentals are lower than those generally applied in Bothasig and Edgemead, but the apartments provide accommodation that is of a high quality.

The concept of the new housing project is founded on high principles of professionalism, and the building site is run to a strict standard of safety and efficiency. Bonny AmblerSmith, site manager for the main contractor, NMC, said that the construction of all the units at the same time, and to the same schedule, allows for the efficiently coordinated delivery of materials and simultaneous completion of tasks.

The apartments are Communicare's second new social housing development in the past two years, and follow the company's mission that commits it to deliver affordable housing by building integrated, sustainable communities. Bothasig Gardens is being developed as an infill project i n a designated restructuring development zone.

Communicare is the largest accredited not-for-profit landlord in the Western Cape, with 3 600 rental units, second only in size to the City of Cape Town. Because of its size, Communicare is able to offer the lowest rentals a square metre to households in the R2 500 to R7 500 income bracket.

Aside from the physical provision of social housing in line with the new mission, Communicare is also tackling diversity management, and the promotion of social cohesion and transformation as part of its forward planning. This includes respect for cultural differences and the recognition that the company can create value and, in so doing, develop real communities.

The Bothasig Gardens apartments will be ready for occupation from November and applications are open.


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