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A community development workshop was hosted by the HDA and the National Association of Social Housing Organisations (NASHO) on 18 and 19 April in Johannesburg. Odette Crofton, GM for Projects and Technical Support Services gave the opening presentation.

The purpose of the workshop was to explore the role of social rental housing agencies in community development in South Africa, as well as an international perspective, to increase an exchange between social housing institutions, rental housing agencies and other organisations that focus on community development. Lessons from the workshop were carried to the N2 Gateway and Zanemvula projects via the staff who attended.

Lennie Barnes (manager Support Services) and Bongani Mbele (community liaison officer Joe Slovo Park) from the N2 Gateway project, and Phaki Ximiya (community liaison manager) from the Zanemvula project attended the workshop.

Barnes said the workshop presented him with the opportunity to engage for the first time at an operational level. “The purpose of the workshop was for the group to share best practices from the social housing institutions, and challenges with regards to community development, and then to come up with a common approach and definition for community development, and ways of dealing with the challenges.”

Barnes added that, although the focus of the workshop was community development in terms of the experiences of the social housing institutions, the observations made by HDA delegates were also useful.

The delegates shared how the HDA interacts with communities on both projects, and shared some of the best practices approaches and activities. Of particular value was sharing our experience on Joe Slovo Park (N2 Gateway), which has not worked since inception. Mbele spoke about the management of social housing stock and engaging the community to change the current mind set in order to get the residents to take ownership of their units.

Presentations were made by Madulammoho, Johannesburg Housing Company, Trafalgar, Communicare, Yeast City Housing, eKhaya and Own Haven and each organisation shared its approach to community development, and its community activities. “It was quite impressive to see what all the organisations are doing even though they have only been in existence for a short time,” said Malcolm McCarthy, one of the workshop organisers.

NASHO’s Face of Social Housing exhibition was also on display at the workshop venue. The expo includes banners featuring social housing projects capturing tenants’ faces and the “faces” of the buildings, and telling the story of the different faces. The intention of the expo is to draw together people with diverse interests in social housing to have the conversation on how to extend its reach and improve its delivery. Look, See, Absorb and Join this conversation. The exhibition is mobile and available to provoke thinking and action throughout South Africa.