Mixed income, mixed reaction
Small rental units to go alongside bigger houses

SOUTH Africa’s first mixed-income housing development hits the market next month.

“Jerusalem”, in Fairland, northwestern Joburg, will see lower- income earners living side by side with more affluent homeowners.

Alan Dinnie, Jerusalem project manager, said if “sales meet the required levels, construction could start in July”.

Plans are afoot to build 187 houses on 9.3ha of council-owned land.

Dinnie said social housing units would take up 30% of the development.

The 55m² social housing units will feature two bedrooms, a kitchen, bathroom and living room.

They will be rented out for R1500 to R2000 a month to families earning between R3500 and R7000 a month.

The other units, which will make up 70% of the development, are expected to sell at over R1.5- million.

Deon Oberholzer, chairman of the Jerusalem Action Group and vice-chairman of the Fairland Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association, said residents were initially extremely concerned about the original proposals for an extensive low-cost housing development in their area.

Despite his optimism about the development, Oberholzer said: “There are a number of concerns that remain in the minds of the community. Any untested model naturally has a higher risk of failure.”

Sotheby’s International Realty chairman Lew Geffen said the project would be an “interesting experiment”.

“I think at the end of the day it will work and I think its success is going to be an inspiration to the neighbourhood,” Geffen said.

Property economist Francois Viruly said: “The only issue that we need to watch out for is that we build such units in areas where there is sufficient infrastructure.

“They have to be built near parks, clinics and schools; those issues are going to determine the success of such developments.”

A QUICK Metro survey found that Joburg celebrities had a mixed reaction to the development.

Socialite and model Babalwa Mneno said: “I wouldn’t live there. The surroundings would not be conducive to the kind of person I am.”

Socialite and choreographer Somizi Mhlongo felt that the mixed housing development was a good move.

“If it means a property worth R20 000 is in my complex, that’s fine, I don’t have a problem with it. Who said some areas are only reserved for the rich?”

Gareth Cliff, 5FM’s breakfast show host, said: “I’ve always loathed golf estates — they’re packed full of white people with new money who are trying to shut the rest of South Africa out. Most of these people don’t even play golf.

“Having said that, forcing poor and rich people into close proximity is a very bad idea — we know birds of a feather flock together; they’re not going to get along. Someone will move out.”

Businesswoman Basetsana Kumalo supported the concept, but was cagey about whether she would buy in such a development. “I support the idea. I think it’s the way the country needs to go; those models work well overseas and that also begins to bridge the gap between the haves and have-nots. It begins to get people to have much more understanding of each other as they live in a common space.”

Umm: Basetsana Kumalo likes it — in theory.

Hell, no: Babalwa Mneno would never.

Not me: Gareth Cliff thinks it’s a bad idea.

No problemo: Somizi Mhlongo doesn’t mind.

Full range: An artist’s impression of the development to be built in Fairland . The image shows a typical Joburg Social Housing Company’s unit on the left, in the middle is a typical two-bedroom standard unit, and on the right is a standard three-bedroom unit. Picture: Courtesy of Crowzen

Article by: Isaac Mahlangu - www.sundaytimes.co.za