Rebuilding Foundations

An exploration of international development work in Africa

The Madulammoho Model: A stepped approach to housing

This was also taken directly from MHA’s Policies and Procedures Manual.  What can I say – the previous communications intern was a good writer!


Based on demand-side affordability, Madulammoho Housing Association developed a stepped approach to providing people with alternative housing options at different rentals. Households could then make housing choices according to their incomes. The ladder approach demonstrates that as people are supported and their skills improved upon, their housing options open up. However sometimes incomes might decline and they may need to seek a ‘reduced’ alternative. In this model whatever the case, households will at the very least have safe and secure accommodation options. Madulammoho’s partnership with MES provides for social services so that households are supported in their choices.

MES runs an assessment centre where each person is assessed by a social worker and then placed accordingly within the MES / Madulammoho system. In addition, each building has a trained life coach who assesses the needs of the tenants. The life coaches serve as an important support for tenants in each building, and deal with the real life stresses (domestic violence, divorce, unfaithfulness of partners, abuse) or spiritual issues of the tenants in the buildings. Monthly reports are compiled by the life coaches so that Madulammoho and MES get a sense of how their tenants are doing.

Each building has a house manager who takes care of the day to day business of the building, including collecting rentals, listening to and dealing with tenant complaints and undertaking minor maintenance. The house manager stays in the building and is paid a salary and trained in the systems by Madulammoho.

In order to minimize costs, Madulammoho outsources as little work as possible. Cleaning and security, as well as ongoing maintenance (besides major maintenance) are all undertaken in-house. Not only does this create jobs for some of the tenants, it also means people have a vested interest in doing a good job. Each building then has its own security and cleaning services which are all managed by Madulammoho. The security, cleaning and maintenance systems are managed centrally, and it is the hope to have a maintenance officer on site in all the buildings at some point in the future. Internalising security and maintenance services has also proved to be a significant cost saver for the company.

Monthly house meetings are held to which every tenant is invited, and to which they are asked to bring their grievances or praise. In this way, tenant committees are avoided as each tenant has direct access to Madulammoho staff at least once a month.

Before any tenant is placed in a unit they have to undertake an extensive screening and workshop process by Madulammoho so that they are aware of their responsibilities and rights as a tenant before they move in. Importantly, this is to avoid confusion for tenants who question why Madulammoho receives grants from government but then still charges rentals to tenants. It is very important to clarify upfront that this is a rental model, and that the tenants will never own a unit. The screening and workshop process also ensures that those benefiting are South African citizens.

Madulammoho operates an anti-eviction policy. This does not mean that tenants are encouraged not to pay. In fact, rental payment is prioritised. But it does mean that all measures of assistance will be offered to tenants to assist them in meeting their monthly payments. This includes linking tenants with the services of MES to assist them in seeking employment and in gaining skills if they become unemployed. It also includes a stepped approach to housing which allows tenants to move to accommodation that is more affordable if they need to do so (though it should be noted that due to high demand and low tenant turnover, reduced housing options are limited to availability). Eviction is only used as a last resort.


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