A distinction between houses and homes

WoodGreen is hosting a South African delegation from a sister community agency this month, and the discussions are rich. There is much we share in common, but much also to learn from each other.

For instance, today, we watched a documentary on the Tent City residents. Over lunch, a guest confessed that he kept thinking how, in South Africa, 4 million people face this same tenuous housing situation. He complimented the sturdiness of the erected structures, but agreed that Canadian winters were a motivation for additional reinforcement. We also talked about the good work of people like Josie Adler, who recently visited Toronto and spoke to the Toronto Neighbourhood Research Network, and who works to make Hillbrow a Neighbourhood reclaiming community, building by hijacked building.

The most valuable story around community–building was how entire neighbourhoods, for 40—50,000 people had sprung up in the 1990’s building spree, with a only single school or community centre to serve new residents. As a Minister of Housing described it afterwards, government had concentrated mistakenly on building houses, rather than homes. To fix this, the Ministry of Housing was given a broader mandate and renamed the Ministry of Human Settlement.

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