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Own Haven: a refuge for everyone

Haven is defined as a place of safety or refuge and Own Haven offers more than just affordable, secure accommodation, going beyond their vision of “providing sought-after, well managed rental homes”.

Own Haven has created community development programs to serve the individuals and families of their residents as part of their commitment to developing stable communities.

Established as a module to own and manage the rental stock of the development called the High Return Housing Project that consisted of 318 two-storey and three-storey walk-ups, Own Haven Housing Association (OHHA) was registered as a Section 21 company in 2001 and began trading in 2002.

The erstwhile Van der Leij Foundation, now Intervolve, inspired by the second UN World Habitat Conference in 1996, initiated High Return Housing, a training programme at Haven Hills South for the underprivileged in East London townships. The approved development included 132 project-linked low-cost RDP units and 318 rental apartments while construction of the final phase of 70 credit-linked plot-and-dwellings was completed during 2010.

Awarded Full Accreditation by the Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA), Own Haven currently manages a portfolio of 2301 units consisting of social and market-related rental units as well as units owned by third parties. 

Own Haven’s head office is situated in East London with offices in Port Elizabeth, Knysna and Cape Town.

Community Development Programs

Soup kitchen

“Our tenants are out at work during the day and when their children come home, there is nobody to cook food for them. So, we started the soup kitchen to meet that need,” says Community Development Coordinator Kim Moore.

The idea expanded over time as they saw it as a method to assist reduce crime in Southernwood by feeding individuals they see on the streets. The effort has aided in the reduction of property crime, such as vandalism.

The initiative, held every Wednesday, began with roughly 25 youngsters living in the complexes and has since grown to include over 200 people.

Wicus Terblanche, Own Haven neighbor and local businessman, observed the work that Own Haven was doing and decided to help by donating fresh fruit, detergent, personal hygiene items, baby formula, and nappies.

The soup kitchen also assists people from townships such as Duncan Village and Ziphunzane who are searching for odd jobs.

One of the beneficiaries, Nelson Jamani says, “We are clean, we smell good, and look representable, thanks to the people of Own Haven. We found this place last year while we were searching for work. At the time they were feeding children, but they welcomed us with warmth. May God bless them.”

Nal’ibali reading and literacy Program and homework club

Attracting almost 20 children weekly, the Nal’ibali reading and literacy program offers reading and writing activities for the children living in the complexes, with the staff continuously trained and supported by the Nal’ibali team.

Own Haven also has its own children’s library that has grown to 82 members with children aged between two and 18 years borrowing the books.

A homework club was started at the Destiny Church, right next door, and an access gate was installed to allow the children to safely move between the complex and the church property and offers extra Afrikaans lessons to children struggling at school.

Sports

With a netball courtyard at Southernwood Square and a football court at Reservoir Mews, Own Haven has sports activities like soccer and netball for the youth and holds inter-complex tournaments.

There are soccer tournaments planned for March and September this year, and two netball matches planned for May and November, and both sports have weekly practice.

Recycling and Garden projects

Own Haven has a clean-up project every alternate Tuesday and has recently set up a recycling initiative with the tenants.

The park behind Southernwood Square and St Peter’s Road is kept clean by the Southernwood supervisor and the grass is cut for children and residents to enjoy the park.

The Development Program grows spinach, onions and beetroot, and green peppers in a garden that is at Eriko Court, which are sold to tenants at a low rate.

The Program also maintains a non-perishable food pantry, which is supported by staff donations and distributed through a variety of organizations. With their most recent collection, they collaborated with the Round Table of East London and allowed them to distribute to people in need.

Help needed

Own Haven Development Program has an allocated budget a month from the company and the money is used to buy 20 loaves of bread and three pots of samp and beans with soya mince for the soup kitchen.

Kim notes that their challenge is that they have no way of knowing how many people will show up, and it tears their hearts to send people away when they are out of food and baby formula.

“What we have covers us for the month. We can do this for four months, according to our calculations. We are looking for people to either come on board and add to what we have or donate to increase our budget so that we can help more people,” Kim says.

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