Affordable high-density housing has a bad reputation. Often it is managed and maintained poorly and can have a poor reputation for safety and unreliable services. To address this in a number of projects on the drawing board I am developing the idea of Onsite Service Enterprises, or OSEs.
Onsite service enterprises are enterprises that install and maintain systems that provide services to occupants of a development. Examples of onsite services include hot water, energy, lighting, waste and recycling, mobility, food retail, food preparation and delivery, childcare, exercise, education, and personal care services
The full capital and operating costs of providing these services, including installing and maintaining these systems, equipment, and facilities, are borne by the enterprises. Service level agreements are signed between the development and service enterprises which define performance requirements related to quality, nature of services, responsiveness, and costs.
Enterprises are required to have a presence on-site so that services are well maintained and that problems and account queries can be dealt with easily and quickly. Transparent fair costing models are used to determine fees charged for these services to ensure there is a reasonable return for the enterprises and that services are affordable.
The example in the diagram is high-density housing development in Johannesburg where services, such as the renewable energy, hot water, and grey and rainwater harvesting systems as well as the solid waste recycling systems are all designed around technology which is installed, managed and maintained by small onsite service enterprises (OSEs). Metering these services is then used to pay for their installation and maintenance. Solid waste collection is largely financed through and efficient recycling system to minimize costs for residents. Similarly, small onsite service enterprises will be established to carry out management and maintenance of the development and are catered for in rental costs.
Onsite service enterprises can reduce the initial capital costs of a project and ensure that installations are well maintained and are affordable. Small onsite enterprises take up commercial units on the ground floor, creating local employment and increased diversity of economic activity. Effective onsite entities will contribute to ensuring that the development is well cared for, high quality of services are provided and that the development provides a secure pleasant living and working environments.