The City of Johannesburg is spending more than R500-million on the ongoing redevelopment and upgrading of single-sex hostels spread across the city and turning them into decent and liveable spaces catering for whole families.
In the main, the City’s five-year Hostels Strategic Plan will result in hostel dormitories – which accommodate up to 16 people of the same sex – being redeveloped into family units and their occupants integrated into the rest of the community to promote social cohesion and oneness.
According to the City’s Member of the Mayoral Committee for Housing, Councillor Dan Bovu, the money will be spent on the upgrading of infrastructure, elimination of sewer and storm water blockages, provision or restoration of electricity, repairing of roads – as well as general maintenance – to make them structurally sound and habitable.
The five-year hostel redevelopment programme started in February 2014 when more than 450 hostel residents were allocated RDP and community residential units at Jabulani Extension 1, formerly Jabulani Hostel.
At the handover ceremony, Johannesburg Executive Mayor Councillor Parks Tau announced that with effect from July 2014 all hostels in Johannesburg would be the responsibility of the City. He called on all departments and municipal entities to contribute to their redevelopment.
There are 31 hostels within the City’s jurisdiction. Its Housing Department owns and manages 11 public and 14 staff hostels. The Gauteng Department of Human Settlements owns and manages six public hostels. The majority are located in regions D, E and F.
Mayor Tau established a Hostel Political Task Team in 2014 consisting of IFP, ANC, NFP and DA councillors led by Chair of Chairs Cllr Solly Mogase to support MMC Bovu in this endeavour.
According to Hostel Redevelopment Deputy Director Paul Ntsooa, the City will ensure that hostel residents have access to adequate basic services such as clean water, refuse removal, graded roads, sanitary facilities and electricity while waiting for the redevelopment of their residences.
Ntsooa says the medium- to long-term plan is to upgrade infrastructure, including the sewerage system, roads, storm water drainage system and bulk electricity supply. He says six hostels – Jabulani Extension 1, Meadowlands, Orlando West, Nobuhle, Helen Joseph in Alexandra and LTA in the Johannesburg inner city – have been identified as flagship projects. But hostel redevelopment goes back several years.
In 2002, the City’s Housing Department upgraded 96 units into family quarters. In 2004 it appointed Alexandra Renewal Project (ARP) to convert 286 units into family units. In 2013 ARP upgraded an additional 574 units into family housing.
The City has so far this year allocated 192 units to hostel redevelopment beneficiaries. A further 1 042 units are expected to be upgraded into family quarters by ARP. According to an audit report, 60 redeveloped units at Diepkloof Hostel in Soweto were allocated to beneficiaries in November 2015 after the City received 88 housing applications.
Ntsooa says some of the residents have requested to be allocated RDP units elsewhere. The City will house them in the Fleurhof and Lehae developments.