'Communicare puts roofs over head'

21 September 2018

FROM the sprawling informal settlements and overcrowded backyards, it is plain to see that Cape Town has a huge housing backlog, robbing people of their dignity.

Communicare, an 80-year old non-profit social enterprise, tackles this shortfall with a small contribution of dignifying rental housing. We are the largest provider of social rentals in Cape Town.

We have moved away from providing privileged access to housing for a few. Now we cater for all residents in Cape Town equally. Apart from dignified housing, our social programmes help tenants to prosper in life.

Being a social enterprise means that the surplus we generate from rental income or housing sales is ploughed back into tenant services and developing new properties. We use our own funds and bank loans to finance new developments. We receive no help from government to operate and very little to build new housing.

We are on our own and, with our tenants collaboration, we need to make it work. To do this, we have to run a tight ship, be innovative and cut costs and grow so that we continue providing housing for Cape Town.

We created goodfind Properties to manage some of our leases and develop new properties. goodfind Properties surplus is used to subsidise tenants who cannot afford commercial rentals.

Communicare was viewed as a welfare organisation providing services like meals, health care and transport. Now, our social programmes focus on helping people to help themselves. We offer skills training and bursaries. We help our tenant community integrate through cultural activities, sport and programmes for children.

Our services cannot be found elsewhere. Where would anybody find rental accommodation from as little as R700 or for working families to pay between 30% to 80% below the market rate? We are sympathetic to tenants who fall on hard times.
We are managing these issues so that dignified housing is available to people in Cape Town. This is who we are and what we stand for. Anthea Houston is chief executive of Communicare.

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