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When business and community work together, beautiful things can happen. Sky City is the largest privately funded affordable housing development in SA, and through community engagement and a forward-thinking approach its developer has created something that is far more than just housing
What was once a huge stretch of empty land in the south of Johannesburg is now a bustling suburb, where hardworking families have put down roots with all the amenities needed for a quality life close at hand.
A TRUE WORLD-CLASS MICRO CITY
Since developer Cosmopolitan Projects first broke ground on Sky City in 2017, 3,750 houses and 480 rental apartments have been delivered – with the ultimate plan over the next eight to ten years to complete 17,500 units, at a total cost of R10bn. Recognising that it’s not just a home that makes for a comfortable life, every house has fibre to the home internet connectivity, and the development includes private education and childcare facilities, public transport infrastructure, retail and convenience offerings, as well as recreation areas such as jogging trails, soccer fields and play parks with jungle gyms
All of these amenities are within reach of people earning from R16,000 per month – building packages start from R614,570, which equates to R5,500 per month. Those that earn less than R22,000 per month can also qualify for housing subsidies under the Finance Linked Individual Subsidy Programme (FLISP). To date 528 FLISP applications have been approved.
So far, there have been more than 18-million bricks, 3.2 million roof tiles and 340, 000 litres of paint used in this development. What makes these numbers even more impressive is that most of the construction has been done by companies owned by members of the local communities and labour originating from the surrounding Green Fields, Eden Park, Palm Ridge and Thokoza communities. This has been possible through the relationship with the GEPT Business Forum, which created the space for both business and community to thrive together. “Of the 61 subcontracted companies currently working at Sky City, 39 derive from the community,” says Willem Smit, Senior Site Manager of Central Development Projects (CDP), Cosmopolitan Projects’ main contractor at Sky City. “That is 63% direct community participation in the Sky City affordable housing project, and every year that number is increasing.”
Along with suppliers and partners, CDP invests in the community contractors through training and skills transfers which is either done through external consultants or in-house trainers covering all the different trades. They also assist some contractors to secure credit facilities from manufacturing, supplier and distribution companies. As an example, Nandipha Guma from Guma Projects first started working at Sky City in 2018 in the FLISP sections, with very little experience in construction and business management. “With the training and guidance of Kenneth Shabangu, the CDP foreman, she has increased her skills, knowledge and ability to become the independent contractor she is today,” Smit says.
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