HK gives housing advice to South Africans

SOUTH African property specialists have sought advice from Hong Kong's public housing experts on how to re-house the millions of people living in squatter camps in their country.

Colin Wright, director of property consultancy JH Issacs, met officials from the Hong Kong Housing Authority recently to learn about their experience of providing affordable mass housing.

JH Issacs is an associate of Hong Kong property consultants Brooke Hillier Parker and the firm is playing a leading role in public housing initiatives in South Africa.

The meeting took on additional urgency because it coincided with the first violent protest by homeless people since the advent of majority rule in South Africa.

The protests erupted in Johannesburg last week following the eviction of a group of homeless people from a vacant building. They had been protesting at the Government's apparent inability to find them another place to live.

More than 10 per cent of South Africa's people were living in temporary squatter huts, a spokesman for JH Issacs said. And since the end of apartheid and the election of Nelson Mandela, the Government had made it a priority to re-house the squatters.


JH Issacs was particularly interested in learning how the Housing Authority had managed to persuade local people to move from the territory's squatter areas and dilapidated buildings into its new housing projects, the spokesman said.

And the South Africans were impressed by the way Hong Kong's subsidised public housing projects made profits by leasing the ground floors of the flats to shops.

They were also keen to take advice from the Housing Authority because of its strong international reputation for providing high-quality public housing quickly and cheaply, the spokesman said.

This had been cemented from the Hong Kong authorities' successful response to the intense pressure for housing caused by a population explosion in the territory since the end of World War Two, he added.


The unofficial meeting was held while Mr Wright was in Hong Kong promoting a Johannesburg development.