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Appraising Housing Delivery in Nigeria

With poor administration and inadequate funding identified as problems of implementing the national housing policies in Nigeria, Adedayo Adejobi writes on policies and strategies for housing delivery in Nigeria, especially as it concerns attainment of sustainable development goals

Housing is a crucial basic need of every human being just as food and clothing. It is very fundamental to the welfare, survival and health of the man. Hence, housing is one of the best indicators of a person’s standard of living and his place in the society. The location and type of housing can determine or affect the status of man in the society. Shelter is central to the existence of man, and it involves access to land, and the necessary amenities to make same functional, convenient, aesthetically pleasing, safe and hygienic. Hence, unsanitary, unhygienic, unsafe and inadequate housing can affect the security, physical health and privacy of man. Invariably, the performance of the housing sector is one of the yardsticks by which the health of a nation is measured.

Nigeria, presently ranks as the 31st largest economy in the world by GDP (397,472 million US$). The top 10 countries by GDP (nominal) in the world are: United States, China, Japan, Germany, United Kingdom, France, India, Italy, Brazil, and Canada. The Human Development Index (HDI) shows in 2012 that Nigeria is ranked 156 with the value of 0.459 among 187 countries. As of 2015, Nigeria’s HDI is ranked 152nd at 0.514. The comparative value for Sub-Saharan Africa is 0.475, 0.910 for the US, and 0.694 for the world average.

Nigeria’s economic freedom score is 57.3, making its economy the 111th freest in the 2019 Index. Nigeria is ranked 14th among 47 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, and its overall score is above the regional average but below the world average.

The housing and construction sector, if properly administered, has the capacity to produce a tremendous multiplier effect on the broader economy of any nation through forward linkages to the financial markets and backward linkages to land, building materials, furniture and labour markets. Nigeria is estimated as of 2015 to have a housing deficit of approximately 17 million and it is projected that about N59. 5 trillion will be required to bridge the gap in this sector. Of all the challenges to the housing sector, limited access to finance stands as a major drawback requiring immediate intervention. The issue with finance is traceable to underdevelopment in our mortgage industry as it reportedly generated less than 200,000 transactions between 1960 and 2014.

According to the World Bank Report (2015), the contribution of mortgage financing to Nigeria’s GDP is close to negligible, with real estate contributing less than 5 per cent and mortgage loans and advances at 0.5 per cent of GDP.

Following the Second World War, there was an acute housing shortage and local authorities were encouraged to build as many houses as possible as quickly as possible. That was occurring because there was a lack of resale inventory as well as a lack of new construction inventory, which in turn was caused by a labour shortage, lack of housing lots and other kinds of higher construction costs.

There have been shortfall in housing deficit for a while now, but 2018 was the year where there was a really huge and noticeable effect on housing demand. Noticeably, the government accords relatively low priority to housing in their overall scheme of national development, and the volume of construction generally falls short of housing demand.

The approach to housing policy in Nigeria has tended to oscillate between the ‘welfare mixed economy’ and the ‘free market model’. The conventional wisdom today is that ‘government has no business building houses’, and that governments should focus on providing favourable investment climates, infrastructure and mortgage facilities to low-to-middle income families.

However, stronger arguments seem to justify state involvement in housing. Protagonists of this school often rationalise their stand on the premise that: housing is a necessity of life and a social right; it affects productivity (individual and national); bad housing can have negative physical and mental impact upon its occupants, and produce negative externalities on society. In addition, the workings of an unregulated competitive market cannot expect to produce outcomes which are entirely in accord with social needs and egalitarian political objectives. Hence, the government must help meet the needs of the poor, the under-privileged and those who cannot fend for themselves. The fundamental case for government intervention in housing is that market forces alone cannot ensure an adequate stock or a fair distribution of housing.

In 1961, the World Health Organisation stated that a good house should have the following items: A good roof to keep out the rain, good walls and doors to protect against bad weather and to keep out animals. Sunshades all around the house to protect it from direct sunlight in hot weather and wire nettings at windows and doors to keep out insects like house flies and mosquitoes. In essence, housing quality can be judged from the physical appearance of the buildings, facilities provided, quality of wall used in the building construction, eminence of the roofing materials, condition of other structural components of the house, and the environmental condition of the house.

Some of the problems attributable to the inadequacy of housing in terms of quality and quantity results in poor standard of the environment include of lack of amenities, poor maintenance, strained relationships between public housing residents and management, and chronic financial crisis have been mentioned as recurring themes of state-controlled, public housing.

Although housing is a universal need, its provision has assumed diverse approaches – in terms of policy instruments and institutions – in Nigeria and different parts of the world. Housing issues and policy problems are both global and inherently local-specific to a given time and place. One of the major responses to the housing challenge has been Public housing. It has taken varied forms in different geographical contexts and other descriptive terms are sometimes used in its place – such as social housing, state-housing, state-sponsored housing, welfare housing, non-profit housing, low-cost housing, affordable housing, and mass housing.

In this sense, the Nigerian Housing Policy was promulgated in 1991 in order to address housing problems. The programmes of action in the policy include construction technology, housing finance, land and infrastructure, building materials, labour management, housing allocation, monitoring and review. The big question – since the inception of this promulgation: Has Nigeria’s Housing Policy address the role of government and lived to its billing?

According to Managing Director, Pentagon Real Estate Investment Ltd, Mr. Kennedy Okoruwa, a most comprehensive housing policy should address the role of government which may vary from the planning and control of all aspects of housing production -land, investment, construction and occupancy -to intervention only at certain levels or when solutions are needed to specific problems involving such matters as land use plans and controls, credit and financial aids, subsidies to low income groups, rent control, slum clearance and re-location.’’

Highlighting housing problems which are peculiar to both rich and poor nations, as well as developed and developing countries, Managing Director, Pazino Homes and Gardens, Patrick Agbaza said: “Certain problems are associated with housing worldwide. They include shortage of housing (qualitatively and quantitatively), homelessness, government short-sightedness about the needs of the people, access to building land, house cost in relation to specification and space standard, as well as high interest rate of home loans. The reasons for shortage of housing in Nigeria include poverty, high rate of urbanisation, high cost of building materials, as well as rudimentary technology of building.’’

Although the federal and some state government intervened by providing mass housing, only the rich and the privileged can afford it. The intervention of government include the formation of federal housing authority, the establishment of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, as well as the creation of the Ministry of Housing, Urban Development and Environment. Nevertheless, in spite of government’s effort to tackle the housing problems, the Nigerian housing situation is still in crisis, and sustainable housing delivery has been seriously hampered.

In order to achieve sustainable housing delivery in Nigeria, numerous housing strategies, programmes and policies have emerged from colonial era to date. However, the United Nations declaration of ‘Housing for all by the year 2000’ geared up the formulation of the renowned Nigerian Housing Policy.

In essence, the declaration suggested that housing problem could be solved within the given time frame. Thus, in 1991, the National Housing Policy was promulgated in order to propose possible solutions to housing problems in Nigeria.

At the inception, the basic goal of the policy was to provide affordable housing to accommodate Nigerian households in liveable environment. Disgusting , however, 28 years after the promulgation of the policy, and 19 years after 2000, many Nigerians are still homeless while several others are living in indecent houses up to this time.

Housing problems abound in Nigeria, both in rural areas and urban centres. The problem in the rural areas has to do with qualitative housing while the problems in the urban centre is quantitative in nature. Housing problems in the rural areas are connected with qualitative deficiencies like place, degree of goodness and the value of the house.

On the other hand, urban housing problems include homelessness slum dwelling, squatting and overcrowding. High rate of urbanisation , ever-increasing population of urban dwellers in conjunction with the increasing social expectations of the people are all responsible for housing problems in Nigeria.

The problems of urbanisation are inadequate housing, unplanned development, improper maintenance of existing structures, aging, absence of social infrastructure, waste management menace, crime, and health hazard. Additionally, the houses in the urban core areas are characterised by inadequate infrastructural facilities, poor ventilation, non-availability of in-built toilet and kitchen, as well as poor refuse disposal system.

Other problems that are associated with urban housing are lack of effective planning, development of shanty towns, and availability of dilapidated houses.

Generally, housing in Nigeria is bombarded with problems like poverty, discrimination against the use of indigenous materials, ineffective housing finance, inadequate financial instrument for mobilisation of funds, high cost of building materials shortage of infrastructural facilities, as well as the bureaucracies in land acquisition, processing of certificate of occupancy (C of O), and approval of building plans.

Other constraints to housing development, maintenance and delivery are lack of effective planning, ineffective government programmes and policies, uncontrolled private sector participation, weak institutional frameworks and poor research and development into housing.

It is instructive to note that housing is inextricably interrelated with broader issues of inflation, income policy, and perplexing range of difficult social and economic trends. All these challenges culminate in the ever-increasing demand that cannot be met by supply.

Appraising the national housing policy, vis-à-vis the federal government’s resolve to address the housing deficit by delivering one million houses per year to close the 17 million shortfall by the year 2033, the Managing Director, Design Genre, Mr. Anthony Okoye, said: “For the future housing development in Nigeria to be sustainable, that is, constituting quality environment, meeting the needs of the dwellers, the neighbourhood, the city and the environment, it must address the following: Location, where should these new housing be located? Should they be urban infill(key in urban revitalization or be located on green sites? Density, should be high maximize infrastructure. A compact layout Mixture of uses rather than just housing. residents should be able to live, work and play in their community. Mixture of tenures and income groups.”

“For housing layouts on green site, they must have clearly defined centres, landmarks, paths and edges to help make sense of the community. An architecture that is energy efficient, functional and respectful of the context .Delivery should be through public private partnership,” Okoye added.

Source: thisdaylive

Nigeria Group Partners Borough of Brent on Affordable Housing

The Financial System Strategy FSS2020 would partner with the Mayor of Borough of Brent, Mr Ernest Ezeajughi, to provide affordable housing for Nigerians.

Mr Muhammed Suleyman, director of the system, said this on Friday when Ezeajughi paid him aa courtesy visit to chart a way forward for the housing challenges of Nigeria.

Suleyman said the FSS2020 was established in 2006 to work with other key stakeholders and transform Nigeria’s financial landscape with a view to making the country’s economy one of the top 20 by the year 2020.

Suleyman stated that FSS2020 was willing to learn from the Borough of Brent to develop a housing model for Nigeria.

He stated that Nigeria had a big housing deficit and FSS2020 was ready to work with the Borough of Brent and other stakeholders to adopt the Brent’s approach.

He said there was need for FSS2020 and other stakeholders to turn around the mortgage sector in order to address the country’s inadequacy in housing.

Suleyman informed Ezeajughi that both the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) and Nigerian Mortgage Refinancing Corporation (NMRC), lends money to developers, including primary mortgage institutions for the provision of housing.

Earlier, the Nigerian-born Mayor said that Brent had different categories of housing made up of private housing, affordable housing and social or council housing.

He stated that these housing were intended to support low income earners and those who could not afford to buy their own houses.

He said the Borough of Brent would share ideas with FSS2020 on a practical approach to scale up the provision of housing in Nigeria.

Ezeajughi said Brent would collaborate with FSS 2020 to see that housing was provided for Nigerians at affordable prices. (NAN)

Efficient Property Registration Key To Affordable Housing

The lengthy process of registering land and property in Kenya has long stood in the way of affordable housing. But there are signs of improvement. To begin with, the ongoing digitisation of land registries by the Ministry of Land and Physical Planning is a step in the right direction.

According to the ministry, seven of the 61 land registries in Kenya are fully digitized. The rest are expected to go digital within the next 12 months.

A key goal of digitising registries is to cut down the time taken in land or property registration. To achieve this, the ministry also aims to retain only key procedures during registration, and standardise the time required for each. This is to be achieved through consolidation of duplicated procedures.

International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, through its Kenya Investment Climate Programme has particularly been supportive of upstream property reforms.

For instance, IFC in collaboration with the Government of Kenya has helped reduce the time and procedures involved in property registration.

Studies on Kenya’s housing sector show a direct correlation between high registration costs and high prices of houses, as they are passed down to consumers.

As a result, millions of lower income households have been priced out, or cannot get access to a mortgage due to the lack of a formal title.

Besides the ultimate goal of reducing costs, digitization will spare Kenyans the trouble of queuing at the Lands office to have their property registered and reduce avenues for rent-seeking.

Combined with changes to outdated laws and regulations, efficient titling of land along with property transfer will help sharpen the competitive edge of the country’s real estate sector.

Presently, the cost of property registration in Kenya is much higher compared to its neighbours due to registration inefficiencies.

This has had the effect of blocking most urban families from buying a house or building their own home or owning a plot.

According to IFC, getting a construction permit from the county to build a home around Nairobi involves, on average, 16 procedures and 159 workdays (six months!). This is a disincentive to aspiring property developers and eventual home owners.

To address some of these challenges, the World Bank-funded Kenya Affordable Housing Finance Project will provide technical assistance to the Land ministry to create an enabling environment for property registration, as part of the government’s goal of expanding access to affordable housing.

Among other things, the technical assistance aims to improve the quality of the ongoing digitization of land records.

The Ministry of Land, through the World Bank supported Affordable Housing Finance Project, will enhance the design of the Lands Information Management System (LIMS) to serve as the sector’s single point of reference on all data related to administering and managing land parcels.

Finally, to complement ongoing policy reforms in the land sector, Kenya also needs to consider legal reforms.

Jaramillo is World Bank country director for Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda Jagundokunmu is IFC regional director for eastern Africa.

Source: businessdailyafrica

Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services Awarded $900,000 Grant For Affordable Housing

To address concerns of a lack of affordable housing, Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services is receiving a $900,000 grant provided by the state government and a nonprofit that finances affordable housing.

The funds will be used to acquire and renovate distressed properties, provide training and technical assistance to homeowners, and create permanent affordable housing for low- and middle-income families. These housing properties will be added to INHS’s Community Housing Trust, meaning they are houses people own instead of INHS rental properties.

“The high cost of housing is one of the biggest challenges facing Ithaca today,” Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick said. “I am proud that residents of Ithaca and Tompkins County will now have a fair chance at homeownership, which is key to the long-term stability and well being of the community.”

Myrick, New York Attorney General Letitia James and officials from INHS made the announcement during a news conference Thursday on Hancock Street .

New York Attorney General Letitia James announces a $900,000 grant for Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services.Buy Photo
New York Attorney General Letitia James announces a $900,000 grant for Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services. (Photo: Matt Steecker / Ithaca Journal)

Johanna Anderson, executive director of Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services, said INHS is planning to preserve, buy and build 31 or more new housing units to be added to its community housing trust over the next five years.

The grant is part of a two-year program that will fund the creation of 18 of those new homes. It will allow INHS to create a new position to enhance and grow the community housing trust, and establish working capital revolving funds for land acquisition. INHS will also use the funds for outreach in educating and engaging homebuyers on the homes in the community land trust.

“The pipeline is constantly in motion, but this funding is wonderful, because there will be 18 units created whether we are buying or constructing,” Anderson said. “With every day comes new possibilities. Having $900,000 to do this work makes it more realistic and gets the pipeline moving much faster.”

The community housing trust currently has 52 units it has used to help 60 families over the last decade, Anderson said.

“INHS gave me the tools and support I needed to buy my first house,” said Leslie Benjamin, a community land trust resident. “I never thought I’d own a home, and I’m so thankful they walked me through the process. That program actually made me think it was possible to buy a house. I thank God each day.”

 

The grant is a continuation of the 2017 Community Land Trust Initiative started by the Office of the New York Attorney General and Enterprise Community Partners, a Maryland-headquartered nonprofit with offices in New York state.

Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick speaks at a press conference in which a $900,000 grant was announced for Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services on Thursday. Behind him on the right side of the photo is Johanna Anderson and to her right is Leslie Benjamin, a community land trust resident who has received assistance from INHS.

Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick speaks at a press conference in which a $900,000 grant was announced for Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services on Thursday. Behind him on the right side of the photo is Johanna Anderson and to her right is Leslie Benjamin, a community land trust resident who has received assistance from INHS. (Photo: Matt Steecker / Ithaca Journal)

“By providing Tompkins County with this grant, we are opening the doors to solutions to a problem that affects many families and individuals: the lack of safe, decent and affordable housing opportunities,” James said. “Our mission is to help communities develop solutions that meet local housing needs and revitalize neighborhoods.”

Outside of Tompkins, the Community Land Trust Initiative has awarded $7.8 million in nine cities and counties throughout New York state, including Broome, Nassau and Suffolk counties, and the cities of Rochester, Albany, Buffalo, New York and Schenectady.

Martha Robertson, chair of the Tompkins County Legislature, speaks at a press conference in which a $900,000 grant was announced for Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services on Thursday.Buy Photo
Martha Robertson, chair of the Tompkins County Legislature, speaks at a press conference in which a $900,000 grant was announced for Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services on Thursday. (Photo: Matt Steecker / Ithaca Journal)

“These homes will remain affordable,” said Martha Robertson, chair of the Tompkins County Legislature. “The value of the land will be held in perpetuity in the community land trust by INHS.”

HUD OFFERS $112 MILLION TO PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that there is a combined $112 million available to expand the supply of permanent affordable housing for very low-income persons with disabilities. Funding is available for the two components of the Section 811 Program – traditional Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities and Section 811 Project Rental Assistance. The available funding includes $75 million in capital advances for the development of new supportive housing for this vulnerable population. This is the first time HUD is offering funding for both programs in nine years.

“Very simply, we need more permanent supportive housing to assist persons living with disabilities,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “The funding we offer today will support existing developments and, for the first time in nearly a decade, help to produce new affordable housing at a time we need it the most.”

Brian Montgomery, Federal Housing Commissioner, added, “We’re seeking to fund innovative and efficient housing models that combine form and function—a pleasant and safe place to live, with the appropriate supportive services. Our goal is to support affordable housing developments that allow persons with disabilities to live as independently as possible in their own communities.”

Section 811 Capital Advances

HUD is offering up to $75 million in capital advance funding to eligible nonprofit organizations to fund innovative permanent supportive housing models that will be at the forefront of design, service delivery, and efficient use of federal resources. Applicants are encouraged to establish formal partnerships with health and human service agencies or other organizations with a demonstrated capacity to coordinate voluntary services and supports for persons with disabilities to enable them to live independently in the community.

To encourage development within Opportunity Zones, HUD will award two preference points to applicants seeking to construct or rehabilitate developments in qualified Opportunity Zone census tracts. Read HUD’s Section 811 Capital Advance funding notice for more information.

Section 811 Project Rental Assistance

HUD is making up to $37 million in rental assistance available to eligible housing agencies working closely with State Health and Human Service/Medicaid Agencies. Eligible applicants include any housing agency currently allocating Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC); participating jurisdictions administering affordable housing programs assisted through HUD’s HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) Program; and/or housing agencies operating similar federal or state affordable housing programs. Eligible applicants are encouraged to align their Project Rental Assistance Programs with state or local initiatives that will directly increase development of permanent supportive housing for extremely low-income persons with disabilities. Read HUD’s Section 811 Project Rental Assistance funding notice for more information.

SOURCE: 1100theflag

Michael Bennet Tries to Break Through With Affordable Housing Plan

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Michael Bennet is angling to get voters’ attention—and boost his idling presidential campaign—by taking on one of Americans’ most visceral concerns: the rent is too dang high.

Bennet, the U.S. Senator from Colorado, unveiled a plan Thursday that would tackle the national housing shortage, saying he would invest in building millions of new affordable housing units across the country and expand a housing assistance program for poor Americans. Nearly half of renters in America currently spend more than 30% of their income on housing, and many of them have no alternative as the country faces a national shortage of 7 million affordable homes.

“A home is a platform for stability and upward mobility in America, but for too many families, owning a home is out of reach and the high cost of paying rent has pushed them to a breaking point,” Bennet said in a statement.

Bennet’s plan comes just a week before the next Democratic presidential debate in Westerville, Ohio on Oct. 15. He has been polling around 1 percent and did not qualify for either the Ohio debate or the previous one in Houston, Texas on Sept. 12. He has said he plans to stay in the 2020 race until at least the New Hampshire primary in February.

 

Bennet’s housing plan includes a collection of ideas aimed at helping people low- and middle-income families pay for homes and creating more affordable housing in neighbourhoods with opportunities for job growth, good schools and transportation.

Just one out of every four people eligible for housing subsidies from the federal government currently gets assistance, Bennet’s campaign said. His plan would slowly expand the federal voucher program over 15 years to fully meet the need.

Bennet’s plan also aims to help those who want to buy homes by creating a refundable mortgage down payment tax credit and expanding credit access for small mortgages, which could help families in smaller or high-poverty areas.

A central component of Bennet’s plan is the creation of new affordable housing units so that people have more choices on where to live. It would invest $430 billion in creating nearly 3 million units over the next 10 years through the Housing Trust Fund and the Capital Magnet Fund, the Colorado Senator’s plan says. Some of Bennet’s fellow Democratic candidates, such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, also include these investments in their housing plans — but both Warren and Sanders would invest more money in creating new housing.

Bennet would also launch pilot grants for regional housing budgets, increase funding for rural housing and increase the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit to encourage communities to build more affordable housing in desirable areas.

The Colorado Senator’s plan would cost significantly less overall than what other candidates have proposed on housing, according to his campaign. This stands in particular contrast to Sanders, who last month announced a housing plan that called for spending nearly $2 trillion on new housing and proposed a national rent control standard.

But Bennet is still banking on his brand of more moderate reform.

“As a former superintendent, I know how important it is for kids to have a stable home so they can show up to school ready to learn and succeed. Slogans like national rent control won’t solve the problem,” Bennet said, referencing Sanders’ plan. “We need to build more homes near good jobs and good schools and ensure people can actually afford them. That’s the bottom line for creating opportunity for all Americans.”

Other candidates such Sen. Cory Booker and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro have emphasized racial justice when introducing their housing policies, and Kamala Harris aimed her plan specifically at fixing the racial home ownership gap. Bennet’s plan also addresses housing segregation by creating a $10 billion grant program to aid communities to eliminate exclusionary zoning laws or other regulations that have historically kept people of color from accessing housing.

The Senator has also released plans addressing climate change, education and healthcare, all of which have yet to deliver that much-needed boost to his campaign.

Source – TIME

NYC To Partner With Co-living Start-ups To Create Affordable Housing

Nearly a year after the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development announced a pilot program to develop affordable co-living residences, three proposals have been chosen to kick the whole thing off.

HPD announced this week that it will partner with three teams, comprising developers, nonprofits, and co-living companies, to develop sites in Manhattan and Brooklyn. In a press release, HPD commissioner Louise Carroll said the idea with the selected proposals is to mix “affordability with flexibility” to provide different types of housing to New Yorkers in need of affordable apartments.

“I hope that these three projects can serve as a model for more creative approaches to addressing the variety of unmet housing needs in our city,” City Council member Brad Lander said in a statement.

The three projects are as follows:

  • Ascendant Neighborhood Development, an East Harlem community group, and the Ali Forney Center will partner on a 10-story building in the neighborhood with the ability to house 36 people. The housing units will be spread across four duplex units, which will be shared by residents, and a single simplex unit; everything will be furnished, and utilities will be included. The team expects to have many of its residents come from the shelter system.
  • Development partners will also team up for an East Harlem building, this one with a whopping 253 “housing opportunities” split up between two eight-story buildings. True to form for Common, the buildings will have different types of co-living units—some more private, some more open—with the general idea being to encourage community among its residents. The project will be mostly geared toward low- and moderate-income New Yorkers, but some units will be market-rate.
  • And in East New York, co-living start-up PadSplit and Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation will create 11 housing opportunities in a two-story, legal single-room occupancy building. The building will be renovated and current residents will be able to remain, according to HPD. Once the renovation is complete, the units will be furnished, and common space—a yard, a communal area—will be added.

The co-living trend has been picking up steam in New York City; while Common is one of the largest operators of this type of housing, but other companies—including have also rolled out these dorm-like housing opportunities throughout the five boroughs.

And this is one of several creative solutions the city is looking at for creating affordable housing; earlier this year, HPD partnered with AIA’s New York chapter to design housing on oddly sized vacant lots.

SOURCE: Curbed.com

How Technology Is Influencing The Future of Food and Housing – Whilst Respecting The Environment

Agriculture is facing a historical challenge. In the next 30 years, food demand will increase by 70 %.

Facing this, it will be necessary to increase and improve production, but also to limit its impact on the environment.

Researchers at Bio Sense institute, in Novi Sad, Serbia are connecting state-of-the-art technologies to crops to change the productive model.

Their mantra: “we cannot feed today’s world with yesterday agriculture”.

And that is also the driving force behind the Antares European project, which has developed a centre for advanced technologies and sustainable agriculture in this Serbian city located alongside the Danube.

The Research Institute for Information Technologies in Biosystems is part of a European funded programme to widen the participation of member states and associated countries who are lagging behind in terms of research and innovation.

The Digital Farm

Agriculture of the future will use advanced technologies, such as sensors, robots, drones, big data and satellite imagery.

“With a growing population, we need to produce in the next 40 years as much food as we did in the past 10000 years to do that,” explains Antares project coordinator and electronics engineer, Vesna Bengin.

“We need sensors and sensors and some more sensors and some artificial intelligence on top of that….to make our culture more efficient.”

Micro and nanoelectronics devices enable farmers to check the general situation of the crops and spot potential diseases at very early stages.

“Soil sensors will give you the information when to irrigate and then not so you can diminish the amount of water that is used for the irrigation process,” says Goran Kitić, the head of the nano-micro-electronics laboratory at the Biosense institute.

“But also we’re developing some sort of solutions that tell you how much of the food for the plant is in the soil how much nitrogen is in disarray.”

Several ‘Digital Farm’ pilot projects have already been launched in Serbia.

“Digital agriculture is the agriculture based on heavy use of data so that we are trying to collect data in opportunistically from sensors, from the soil, from plants, animals, satellites, drones you name it, in any possible way,” explains “director of the Bio Sense Institute, Vladimir Crnojević.

“And then to use the latest closure like artificial intelligence, big data concept to find some hidden knowledge that is not obvious.”

The Agrosense platform

The virtual counterpart of the Digital Farm is the Agrosense platform.

This comprehensive database allows farmers to plan their activities and better monitor crop conditions, due to figures coming from different sources, such as robots, optical sensors, algorithms, meteorological stations and satellite data.

“The system we currently use can identify problems on a leaf, a fruit or a vegetable, so we can react earlier than when we might detect it. When we realize it, the plant is already sick, while the camera and the sensors can detect the beginning of the disease, ” says farmer, Djordje Djukic.

Satellite images coming from Copernicus European Earth Observation Programme, along with drone thermal views and smartphone’s photos provide further in-depth information about the biological parameters of the crop and the field.

Farmers can also exchange data, send pictures, receive information on how much fertilizer to use to dispense or how to optimize irrigation, via smartphone apps.

Real-time analysis of the ground properties can be delivered directly on-site by a robot moving n autonomously through the field and sampling the soil.

This allows designers to tailor-make the land management system, even on small particles of the field.

The resurgence of wood

The construction sector worldwide is responsible for one-third of all the CO2 emissions and 40% of all the wastes.

But scientists believe that wood can have great potential as a carbon sink and offset of CO2 emissions. Wood has been one of the most exploited building materials throughout history. Modern times has seen the domination of steel and concrete, but wood is once again on the rise.

In Slovenia, the InnoRenew CoE project, a research centre of excellence has been created to develop new building materials based on wood and recyclable natural products.”

Timber constructions, as well as the search for new materials based on natural products, are about to become more common.

“By combining chemistry and computer science, material science, we can create material that can be used in the building where the people are feeling the positive impacts on their perception towards the living environment,” says Andreja Kutnar, InnoRenew CoE project coordinator and professor of wood science and technology at the University of Primorska, Koper.

“it’s very sustainable …because when we cut the tree at the same time we plant another one”

Wood modification processes also allow desired properties to be produced by means of chemical, biological or physical agents. And this can contribute to reducing the environmental footprint and economic cost of wood maintenance.

“Wood is basically the champion of all the renewable material. It’s not only it’s carbon neutral it’s actually carbon negative. So basically when you make a wooden house not only you didn’t really emit any CO2 we were actually storing it in the construction itself,” says Iztok Šušteršič , a research group leader at the Innorenew Centre of Excellence (CoE).

Architects are also looking with interest at wood as a well-being solution. A topic of our interest is its connection to the well-being of people. “How buildings can reduce stress. How it can improve health,” says Eva Prelovšek Niemelä, an architect at Innorenew CoE.

Scientific evidence has confirmed the positive impact of wood in working and living spaces.

Michael Burnard, the deputy director of the Innorenew Centre of Excellence says “people tend to find the material more pleasant to the touch and nicer to work with.”

Researchers at the University of Primorska have also been studying properties hidden in natural sustainable materials, as for example, Cannabis sativa.

Its fibres are undergoing a renaissance within the construction sector, because of their mechanical properties

“What is interesting is the mechanical performance of its fibres, which are almost similar to glass fibres,” explains Laetitia Marrot, a researcher, at the Innorenew CoE.

“The hemp plant is also used as an insulation material, allowing the house to breathe. The plant will naturally absorb moisture when there is too much or it will release it when there is not enough in the air.”

Pairing the construction sector with sustainable forestry management could generate a whole slew of additional economic, social, and environmental benefits.

Source: euronews

Family Homes Funds in Partnership with NBRRI to Deliver Affordable Housing

Nigerian Federal Government social housing scheme, Family Homes Funds has started the process of fashioning a working relationship with the Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute NBRRI.

The MD/CEO of Family Homes Funds, Femi Adewole and his team paid a courtesy visit to the research institute’s headquarters in Abuja on Monday to identify areas of cooperation that will help achieve the delivery affordable housing to millions of Nigerians in need of it.

They were received by the NBRRI team led by Professor Samson Duna, (Acting Director General) and all Heads of various departments of NBRRI.

The courtesy call according to Femi Adewole, is to explore opportunities of working together.

‘’We are in an age of information and knowledge for delivering change. And for the Family Homes Funds, we are absolutely clear that if we are going to deliver change in the way that housing is delivered in Nigeria, knowledge has to be a critical part of that, and I think the nation’s leading building research institute therefore becomes a key partner and I think we agreed today that we will work together,’’ he said.

The outcome of the courtesy meeting was the setting up of a bilateral team that will explore concrete areas for collaboration with concrete results. The committee, according to Adewole, will report back in a month, after which they would reach an official partnership agreement with NBRRI.

‘’I am really hopeful that this will deliver some significant step change in how we deliver housing in Nigeria,’’ he added.

Speaking on behalf of NBRRI, Prof Samson Duna, said they were delighted about the visit from Family Homes Funds.

‘’They came with a good intention, and a good framework of trying to bring houses to the doorsteps of those that cannot afford. They come with good ideas, and the ideas will lead into collaboration; where they need our assistance we come in to provide that; where we need theirs, they too will come in to provide that. So it is a win-win situation for all. But the most important thing is to ensure that we work together to have a cost friendly and affordable housing system in Nigeria,’’ he said.

The Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute (NBRRI) is responsible for researching and developing road and building materials for the Nigerian Construction Industry. The institute is under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology of Nigeria.

What they do, according to Duna, is to identify a problem in that sector and provide solutions from research point of view.

Family Homes Funds is in trust of up to N500 billion to deliver 500, 000 affordable houses by 2023. As at today, over 10, 000 and many more houses are in the works in several parts of the country courtesy of the Fund.

Let’s Demand Affordable Housing For All

City shelters are not a long-term solution to the affordable housing crisis that has left many of our neighbors homeless. However, in New York City, homeless men, women and children have a legal right to shelter. The proposed shelter at 78-16 Cooper Avenue in Glendale, Queens has been a hotly debated issue.

Opponents of the shelter that is set to provide 200 men with a place to lay their head at night, along with needed services and guidance on securing employment, have fervently organized against its opening at every step. And though there is a lot of opposition being led by the Glendale-Middle Village Coalition, with support from Councilmember Robert Holden, the fact is that too many of our neighbors are in need of housing.

This shelter will provide a temporary solution while we fight for and demand Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo invest in permanent and truly affordable housing for all. All people, including those who are currently homeless, should have a right to safe and stable housing and placing our energies on blocking this shelter drives us further away from resolving the crisis we’re in.

It’s understandable that we all want to be safe where we live but at every instance, conversations around this proposed shelter have become so downright ugly and obscured by racist stereotypes of who we think the homeless are. In talking about this shelter, Holden has said we must “take care of our own” and that people living in the shelter “won’t assimilate to our neighborhoods.”

This fear of the “other” is what drives opponent’s motivations to block the shelter from opening.  The truth is, we have homeless neighbors who come from our district, including those who have been displaced from homes in Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth and Ridgewood. With a median asking rent of $2,300, this should be no surprise. The racism on display from opponents is connected to a continuum of systemic racism that allows luxury developers free reign of our community, igniting gentrification that displaces people who have lived in the neighborhood for decades.

If we can all agree on one thing, it’s that Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio, along with other local elected officials, have failed us. They’ve failed by not committing to implementing real solutions to end homelessness. We know that the leading cause of homelessness, especially among families, is a lack of affordable housing. And with over 90,000 people homeless in New York State, we need to act now. It isn’t too late but all of us need to be working together.

To address this problem, we need to tackle it at the root, in part by passing strong tenant protections like Good Cause legislation that will protect private tenants from baseless evictions that can lead to homelessness.  This June, we won historic protections for tenants in New York State and we need to build on those wins by expanding rent protections to all tenants.

We need our elected officials to be brave and stand up against the real estate industry by passing progressive tax solutions that will give us the resources to create housing that is truly affordable for all.  Homelessness is a societal failure and the solutions to the problem are not complicated. By creating much needed housing, we won’t only be “taking care of our own,” but ensuring housing for all.

Source: queenseagle

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