What impact has the corona crisis had on your work to date?
Houston: South Africa has been in lockdown since March 27. Our employees were also sent directly to the home office. However, it was important to us that our tenants could be reached around the clock and that important maintenance and repair work was carried out. Naturally, we introduced strict health and safety measures for all of our employees, service providers and tenants working on site. We also supported the government's Corona information campaign by continuously informing our tenants about their cell phones.
Many of your tenants are single elderly people. How do you support them in this difficult time?
Houston: Communication is inevitably running at a distance, especially via mobile channels. But as soon as possible, we will make more social exchange offers again. We also cooperate with other organizations that work with people in precarious situations. In addition, we are currently working with the Ministry of Health on the introduction of a flu vaccine program to protect our older tenants in winter.
How will your work and fundamentally the subject of social housing change as a result of the corona crisis?
Houston: We are currently developing some innovative models to adapt the communication with the tenants to the new situation - everything should be digitally possible in the future. Otherwise, we started building hundreds of new social housing at the end of last year. This construction work is currently interrupted due to the lockdown measures, but will be resumed soon. Basically, many South Africans have suffered major financial losses in the past few months, so the need for affordable housing will continue to grow. Many people will simply no longer be able to afford their rent. We hope Communicare can play a small role in finding solutions to the crisis.