The greening project has received two separate gold awards at the UN Liveable Community Awards, one in 2008 and again in 2010.
Given the almost total lack of investment in public transport by the previous government, for decades minibus taxis and rail were the main means of getting around Soweto and into Johannesburg.
The next two phases, to be completed this year, are to convert a further 76 family homes, and build 112 new four-storey, walk-up units on vacant land near the former hostel.
Hostels elsewhere in Soweto are getting the same treatment, such as in the suburb of Jabulani, where 401 family homes are being built out of a former hostel, as well as in Dube, Diepkloof and Meadowlands.
Here the city of Johannesburg has invested some R130-million in good-quality, high-density family flats in the Soweto suburb of Orlando.
But while the city itself was green, for decades Soweto was drab and dusty, with only a few trees planted in the 1950s.Between 19 the government, vigorously implementing its apartheid policies, moved thousands of black South Africans from the city to Soweto.As with all townships, it was ignored by the former regime.Getting its name from the apartheid designation of South Western Townships, Soweto was built as a shantytown on the edge of Johannesburg.It was essentially a dumping ground for black citizens, far from work and the white suburbs.