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News and Resources

South African and Canadian Social Housing Groups Share Strategies


News and Resources
By Rooftops Canada
In May 2012, Ismail Khatib, CEO of First Metro Housing Company (FMHC), Durban, South Africa visited social and co-op housing groups in Ottawa and Moncton. FMHC manages 1200 units, has 1600 units under construction, and is acquiring an additional 2300 units. It will soon be one of the largest social housing institutions (SHIs) in South Africa.
Ismail also represented the National Association of Social Housing Organizations (NASHO) which has 18 member organizations across South African. Together, they own, manage and are developing about 40,000 non-profit units.
The visit allowed Ismail to share information with Canadian social housing providers about the challenges and responses to rapid growth and change. In Ottawa, Ismail attended the 2013 Canadian Housing and Renewal Association Congress and met with CMHC, CCOC, OCH, CABs, and Sound Advice Consulting. His visit included a tour of social/co-op housing projects, including a wonderful dinner at Laidlaw Housing Cooperative. He then moved on to Moncton to participate in the New Brunswick Non-Profit Housing Association Conference.
Summing up his visit, Ismail said: The experience was phenomenal and I got to meet many colleagues in the Canadian housing sector. I was particularly impressed with the capacity building, community development and tenant involvement aspects. These are issues that are becoming more important in South Africa in light of the proposed increase in social housing.
Céline Carrière, Executive Director of the Co-operative Housing Association of Eastern Ontario and Rooftops Canada Board Member, said: It was wonderful not only to share our Canadian affordable housing experience with Ismail, but to learn from his experiences in South Africa. Both countries face similar challenges in terms of capacity, scale and the regulatory environment, and Ismail’s experience offered some unique solutions and approaches. We also had a wonderful day touring Ottawa’s scenic areas and some of Ottawa’s housing cooperatives.
Many thanks to the Canadian housing groups and our wonderful volunteers who so generously hosted Ismail. The visit was undertaken in part with the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canadian International Development Agency.