First Metro Housing Company (First Metro) was established in 1998 as an independent, section 21 social housing company and came about as a result of the twinning relationship between the Cities of Durban (subsequently renamed eThekwini) and Rotterdam. The initiative was among the first social housing enterprises in the country and signalled Durban’s intent on tackling the city’s housing challenges in a multi-prongued approach, with the provision of rental housing to low and moderate income households forming one of the cornerstones.
Subsequent to its establishment, First Metro has pioneered social housing in the Durban area and is currently regarded as one of few best practice examples within the broader social housing environment. The company currently owns and manages over 1000 rental homes and apartments, housing approximately 4000 people in refurbished inner city buildings, as well as well–located greenfields projects. The company has a staff complement of 17.
Besides contributing to the local economy in the form of the creation of direct job opportunities within the company, First Metro has made a contribution to the creation of indirect down stream job opportunities as a result of construction/refurbishment activities, outsourcing of facilities management activities (cleaning, security, maintenance), procurement of professional services etc. The company also has a proud track record with respect to its contribution to the transformation of the property management and construction environment through its approach to targeted procurement and Black Economic Empowerment.
First Metro’s activities has thus far resulted in a significant investment into the city, thus contributing to the City’s property base rates and complementing the City’s efforts in addressing housing backlogs and striving for inner city regeneration and integration.
First Metro’s success story thus far has been critically influenced by the establishment and nurturing of strong stakeholder relationships. In co–operation with the eThekwini Municipality, the KZN Department of Human Settlements, the Netherlands-based Durban Rotterdam Housing Projects (DRHP), National Housing Finance Corporation (NHFC), the Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA), as well as other partners, First Metro has put itself on the map as both a local, regional and national role player in social housing. The company was instrumental in the establishment of the National Association of Social Housing Organisations (NASHO) and continues to play a leading role within the regional NASHO branch.