LOW-COST HOUSING PROJECTS UNVEILED

A DREAM of the community of Bellavista in Turffontein, southern Johannesburg, has finally come true with the opening of two major low-cost rental housing projects.

A DREAM of the community of Bellavista in Turffontein, southern Johannesburg, has finally come true with the opening of two major low-cost rental housing projects.

Last week Citrine Court and Bellavista New were opened for public viewing.

Nicknamed "the hellhole", Citrine Court was the most notorious building in Turffontein because of its dilapidation and being a hide-out for criminals.

The two buildings were developed by the Johannesburg Social Housing Company (Joshco).

Joshco was established in 2004 to help eradicate housing backlog in the City of Johannesburg.

Local councillor Josie van Staden said the renovation of the flats was worth waiting for.

"People felt sorry for me but I had to take on the challenge and indeed I found that persistence does pay off in the end," she said.

"Citrine Court was a mess. Drugs were being sold there, people were mugged and some even sold units to each other."

The lifts in the 16-storey building were not working, burst pipes and leaking roofs were the order of the day.

"A young man was thrown off one of the floors and he died," Van Staden said

"It was difficult convincing the City of Johannesburg to do something about the building because they did not have a budget for it."

In April last year all the tenants were moved to other inner city buildings and the refurbishment began.

It cost Joshco R22,7million to renovate Citrine Court, which now has 79 units.

Citrine Court was simultaneously opened with a Bellavista New low-cost housing development that has 36 new units.

Each unit comprises two bedrooms, a living room, bathroom and a little kitchen.

Joshco chief executive officer Rory Gallocher said: "The rent in the two establishments will range between R2700 and R3300."

Prospective tenants can start applying for units today.

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