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AHCN: Mobilizing the housing sector for greater efficiency

The Association of Housing Corporations of Nigeria (AHCN) is the umbrella body of all the housing corporations and related housing agencies in Nigeria. The Association was formed in May, 1964 by four defunct regional housing corporations and the Lagos Executive Development Board, (LEDB) (now LSDPC), with the main objective of ensuring the increased availability of dwelling houses and the development of the housing industry.

From four foundation members, the Association has grown to a 50 member organization, which includes, Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), Federal Housing Authority (FHA), all the thirty six states Housing Agencies, housing research institutes, mortgage establishments, and private property developers.

These housing agencies located in each state of the federation, have the statutory mandate to execute public housing programmes for each state of the federation based on the formulated housing policies.

Essentially, they undertake the development of estates by acquiring, developing, holding, managing, selling, leasing or letting any property movable or unmovable in their respective states.

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The Association is also charged with providing a home ownership saving scheme in respect of any housing estate or building owned, constructed and managed by them with a view to enabling members of the public purchase or build their own houses as well as sites and services scheme for residential, commercial and industrial purposes for the people of their respective states.

AHCN also construct and maintain modern dwelling houses at reasonable costs for sales to members of the public; undertake the construction of offices, commercial and industrial buildings for letting out to members of the public among other things and engage in other investment activities and opportunities as may be determined by the respective state governments.

Other objectives of AHCN include, providing the means for consultation among government departments or ministries, statutory public and private organizations whose functions/interests are related to the provision of adequate housing for Nigerians.

Over the years, AHCN has fostered, promoted and stimulated planning, construction, and financing of real estates and dwellings across the country, through joint and individual efforts.The Association has also provided a means of communication and consultation and where feasible, enabled joint action with public and private organizations of other countries, and with international organizations and agencies, for the provision of housing and infrastructure.

It is worthy to note that it was through the Association’s efforts and useful suggestions on housing policy options that gave birth to viable government agencies like the Federal Housing Authority (FHA), Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute (NBRRI), the National Housing Policy (NHP) and National Housing Fund (NHF).

In the area of solving the housing deficit, AHCN prides itself as the only body that can address the challenge. Making a case for this assertion, AHCN Executive Secretary Toye Eniola, in an interview said,

“The public and private sector driven mass housing provision have been experimented and tested over the years and it has been proven that public sector driven housing provision through housing corporations are equal to the task of developing mass housing given the right atmosphere,”

According to him, “housing challenge of most of our state capitals, especially during creation of new states were effectively resolved by housing corporations and it is most evident in most state capitals with popular and established housing estates.

“Housing corporations are government parastatals with access to government land, which place them at vantage position to execute government housing scheme.

He stated that private developers are high profit driven and they prefer middle and high-income housing projects, which are easier to dispose to recoup their investment in a short while, which invariably does not favour the low income groups because of affordability questions.

With the construction sector being the largest employer of labour in Nigeria, AHCN is calling for massive investment by government into the sector and the establishment of a financial institution that would provide funding for the construction industry like the ‘Construction Bank’.

As a way of tackling housing challenges in the country, AHCN came up with a new policy tagged Eradicating Homelessness Initiative,‘ERAHOMS’, which is basically aimed at reducing and eradicating homelessness among Nigerians. The programme is a practical effort aimed at providing affordable housing for Nigerians, especially those who are interested in using the National Housing Fund to purchase the housing units.

More ground can be covered in the race to solving housing problems in Nigeria, with government support and providing an enabling environment for members. It is in this vein, that the Association has consistently called for the review of laws establishing housing corporations, granting them autonomy and commercialisation to enable them fulfill their statutory responsibilities in the housing sector.

It further called for all outstanding contributions to the NHF to be remitted while statutory provisions of the National Housing Policy should be strictly enforced and applied along with the sanctions embedded in the policy.

Government should also make other sources of funding available for housing corporations, these sources could include annual grant from the Federal Governments, specific contributions from State Governments, financial institutions specific contributory involvement, as well as contributions investible funds from quoted companies

Government can also make other sources of funding available for housing corporations, these sources could include annual grant from the Federal Governments, specific contributions from State Governments, financial institutions specific contributory involvement, as well as contributions investible funds from quoted companies.

SOURCE: Affa Dickson Acho

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