The abolishment of apartheid in 1994 raised hopes that under the new government there would be improved housing, jobs and accessible services to residents in a short to medium period. Despite the optimism that prevailed during the post-apartheid period, the housing challenges still thrive and the related plethora of challenges. Undoubtedly the legacy of the restrictive apartheid laws is evidenced in several hundred ‘ad buildings’ (running the full spectrum from slumlords, bad/failed managements, abandoned, squatted and sometimes taken over by criminals). Common characteristics in all of these accommodation types services are that they are unreliable, mainly unpaid for, often illicit, and owners are in arrears and subject to litigation proceedings by the City of Johannesburg.

The influx of impoverished Africans from different countries in the early 1990s resulted in change in demography of the inner city of Johannesburg and an increased occupation of vacated office space. Property invasion also took place in the inner city where many apartments had been vacated and had discontinued connection to services. However, with a transformed South African political regime from 1994, and the new democratic municipal structures from 2000, new developments took place in the inner city.

Inner City - Cred- ICRC-FACEBOOK

New property owners invested in the inner city in response to unprecedented new demand for rental housing at the lowest rung of the formal sector. Many ‘ad buildings came under new ownership causing low income/informal income occupants to be evicted becoming displaced and ever more vulnerable Johannesburg’ chronic settlement crises, hitherto labelled as a housing shortage and previously predominant in black townships has now extended to informal settlements and griped the inner city. The situation was aggravated by unprecedented immigration, from all over South Africa and other African countries. Consequently, Johannesburg City, is faced with a myriad of challenges emanating from the growing urban population. The city attracts local and international migrants who seek economic opportunities, thus, the increase in population growth. The escalating population growth strains existing housing, services and economic opportunities, leading to complex problems.

The interconnectedness of the problems in the inner city of Johannesburg warrants that different stakeholders work together in their efforts to address them. Certainly the fragmented approaches to housing challenges in the inner city have only resulted in marginal positive benefits. It is against this background that Planact and the ICRC jointly promote exchange of ideas regarding the phenomena.