Against all odds, Family Homes Funds has established itself as a reliable social housing scheme for low and medium income earners in Nigeria. At its conception, sceptics were unsure – and rightly so – about how a federal government plan to build at least 500, 000 homes and create up to 1.5 million jobs in the process within 5 years through Family Homes Funds can be achieved. This scepticism was based on how replete Nigeria’s history is with many failed attempts to address the country’s embarrassing housing deficit.
It has been barely a year since kick-off, but the Fund has so far developed at least 1050 homes with another 3000 at different stages of development. They have been able to create about 1400 jobs through these projects. Over 500 units have been completed in Nasarawa state, 750 in Kano, 650 in Delta and many more all over the country.
Giving Nigeria’s housing deficit, these numbers might indeed seem like a drop in the ocean, but if previous projects were this consistent and result oriented, the deficit which many believe stands at least 17 – 20 million today wouldn’t have been.
With nearly 200 million people, Nigeria has the largest population in Africa, and it is the 7th in world population ranking. In spite of this huge population, the country has struggled over decades to come up with a sustainable action plan that will reduce the incredible housing gap in the country.
Governments in many countries take the responsibility for the provision of housing through a mortgage financing system that simplifies home ownership for employed citizens, and a social security system for the unemployed. And this is why China with a population of 1.3 billion people has a housing surplus yet Nigeria with a population of about 200 million has a housing deficit.
It is against this backdrop that the current administration under the leadership President Muhammadu Buhari and the Ministry of Works, Power and Housing, introduced new policy measures and initiatives to address the housing challenges in the country.
The Family Homes Fund Limited is one of such new initiatives. The Fund is a partnership between the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority as founding shareholders. The Fund is the largest affordable housing-focused fund in Sub-Sahara Africa, leveraging its significant capital (in excess of N500billion by 2023) to facilitate access to affordable housing for millions of Nigerians on low to medium income groups. Through strategic partnerships with various players in the sector and some of the world’s main Development Finance Institutions, the Fund has an ambitious commitment to facilitate and supply 500,000 homes and 1.5million jobs for the low income earners by 2023.
Through its Rental Housing and Help-to-Buy Schemes, beneficiaries of the project enjoy a deferred loan for up to 40% of the cost of their home. For the first 5 years of the loan, no payments need to be made. From the 6th year, monthly payments will be made to start repaying both interest and capital to assist the purchaser. The amount paid starts low and increases each year in gradual steps (average 6.5% per annum) in order for the Help-To-Buy loan to be fully repaid by the 20th year, the same year the mortgage is expected to be fully repaid.
To qualify, households will have earnings between N600k to N1.2m per annum and the Fund ensures that 1 bedroom unit should not be more than N3 million; 2 bedroom unit should not be more than N4.5 million, and 3 bedroom should not be more than N6.5 million. An exception is made in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano where the cost of a new home can be as high as N9m. Households benefiting from Loan Assistance will not be owners of a suitable home and will include one income earner who is under 35 years of age and does not have to be one of the people applying for the scheme or the loan but must be available to help with repayments.
The Fund is in strategic partnership with housing stakeholders like the NMRC, with which it is currently working on affordable mortgages specifically through the Help-to-Own product where low income earners can enjoy the most affordable and flexible mortgage system in the country.
Family Homes Funds is most likely the only agency today in the country that is providing financing for affordable housing outside of the commercial banks where the interest rates, requirements, affordability and development costs are usually high. The fact that they are able to provide financing at no more than 10 percent per annum which is about one third of the market rate is a significant and novel intervention.
Most states that are in partnership with the Fund are now keying into the program to provide housing for their staff through the fund. In Borno state, the Fund is providing about 4700 homes, with 3000 of those being very low cost homes for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
Having signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Construction Skills Training and Empowerment Project Ltd/Gte C-STEMP, an organization with a vision to build a pool and database of certified artisans with the requisite skills to meet industry needs that translate to better quality of work and life for all stakeholders – Family Homes Funds has shown commitment to incorporate training, assessment and certification as a condition for beneficiaries to access its programs and to ensure that only skilled labour are utilized on its projects. Its laudable partnership with C-STEMP is to provide affordable and quality homes while creating jobs for highly qualified persons.
What makes Family Homes Funds stand out? The motivation behind the establishment of Family Homes Funds is based on the fact that it is not just enough to supply houses without taking care of the demand side. The Fund dedicates sufficient strategy to ensuring that the supply of houses meets the demand for it.
As calls for sustainable building rings loud in the air, Family Homes Funds already leads the way through its collaboration with other agencies in the development and application of building innovations that can be cost effective. Family Homes Funds is working with bodies like MBRI to commercialise innovative building systems that rely very little on concrete and cement, which is a significant step in not only advancing local content, but ensuring sustainability.
As a testament to their hard-work, Family Homes Funds won the Affordable Housing Promoter of the Year Award at the 2019 Nigeria Housing Awards. The prestigious award is in recognition of ongoing affordable housing projects being financed by the fund for low and middle income earners across the country.
While the excellent progress of Family Homes Funds excites stakeholders, there is the need for government to ensure that the kind of bureaucracy and political interference that have prevented previous and ongoing housing initiatives in the country from achieving their set aims do not affect Family Homes Funds. Its independence and all-round support from the government ought to be uninterrupted if set goals are to be reached in the allotted time frame of delivering the 500, 000 homes.