Law Changes Seen as Tool to Boost Affordable Housing Across Oregon

SALEM — It’s getting harder to find a place to live in Oregon, and state lawmakers are making a bipartisan effort to address what some call a housing crisis.

New housing construction isn’t keeping pace with population growth in Oregon, according to state economists. The Up for Growth National Coalition estimates that from 2000 to 2015, Oregon “underproduced” its housing needs by 155,000 units. Increases in real estate and rental prices in the Portland area only recently started easing.

State Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer, D-Portland, has been working on housing issues in the Legislature since 2013. As chair of the House Human Services and Housing Committee, she’s excited about the work legislators are doing, and she likes many of the proposals she’s seen, including more money for local planning departments, a lifeline for struggling mobile home parks, boosting density in residential neighborhoods and beyond.

She’s worried about how the state is going to pay for them. About $70 million is being sought for housing-related legislation, House Speaker Tina Kotek said. “I don’t know if we’ll find the money, but we’re going to try,” Kotek said. One of her priorities is opening more residential areas to multi-family housing.

House Bill 2001 would require all cities above 10,000 in population to permit a duplex wherever they would allow a single-family house. All cities above 25,000 — as well as virtually the entire Portland Metro area — would have to allow triplexes, quadplexes, townhouses and cottage clusters in residential neighborhoods as well.

The goal, Kotek said, is “to provide more housing choice in residential areas.” Permitting what she calls “missing middle” housing types would mean more rentals that low-income Oregonians can afford, more homes for first-time homebuyers, and more apartments, condominiums and small houses for older adults looking to downsize.

HB 2001 was introduced to significant skepticism from cities and counties, conservative economists, and Republican legislators. But after multiple rounds of revisions, the bill passed out of Keny-Guyer’s committee on an 11-0 vote in favor of passage.

“I was very supportive of the overall concept, and I was very supportive of making some pretty big changes to it, and I think all of that happened,” Keny-Guyer said.

Rep. Jack Zika, R-Redmond, is among the committee Republicans who came around on HB 2001 after initial doubts. He’s still hoping for some more changes, he said, but he is “starting to like the bill.”

“When you need affordable housing, you’ve got to do everything you can,” Zika said.

Rep. Ron Noble, R-Carlton, who was part of a work group Kotek convened to hone the proposal, described his committee vote as a “courtesy yes.” He thinks the bill is better than it was, but he’s still not sold on idea of the state requiring local governments to loosen their land-use rules.

“It’s a hammer, as opposed to a carrot,” Noble said.

The League of Oregon Cities still isn’t on board either, lobbyist Erin Doyle said, but it does think HB 2001 has improved by giving cities more control and more time to implement changes.

HB 2001 is part of a set of bills Kotek is championing. House Bill 2002 is a more technical bill that aims to preserve subsidized low-income housing. House Bill 2003 would compel cities to permit affordable housing on residential land that they own. It would also require them to create more detailed reports on their housing needs and strategies to address them.

Taken together, those three bills would spend more than $4.5 million out of the state’s general fund — largely for “technical assistance” to help local governments with planning — and authorize up to $25 million in lottery bonds for an affordable housing preservation fund.

Kotek’s trilogy of bills have grabbed most of the attention around housing. But there are other proposals under consideration.

House Bill 2228, proposed by Rep. David Gomberg, D-Otis, would allocate $2.5 million for housing-related technical assistance from the state to cities and counties. It’s intended to help small and rural communities, which often have just one planner on their payroll or under contract.

Another set of bills put forward by Rep. Pam Marsh, D-Ashland, would focus on manufactured homes, which she describes as “naturally occurring affordable housing.”

“Typically, it’s less expensive and more accessible to people of lower incomes,” Marsh said.

Marsh’s legislation would let people living in an old mobile home take out a state loan to buy a new one, provide state grants for old mobile homes to be hauled away and disposed, and set up another loan program intended to keep mobile home parks open and affordable for residents.

She has also put forward House Bill 2802, which would make up to $13 million available in grants to help low-income residents with major home repairs. Gomberg, Keny-Guyer and Noble are cosponsors.

“There’s only so much we can do that we drive ourselves as public agencies — only so much housing that we can build,” Marsh said. “We really need to look at ways that we can be effective in the private realm, in helping people to stay in their homes, upgrade their homes and not lose them.”

Programs cost money, though. Budget-writers in the Legislature are already combing through spreadsheets trying to find savings, as key Democrats in Salem concede that the state will have make “difficult” decisions to cut existing services, let alone add new ones.

“I think it’s real easy from an advocate standpoint to really passionately hone in on one program or feature,” said state Rep. Dan Rayfield, D-Corvallis, who co-chairs the Ways and Means Committee. “But then also — looking at what’s the holistic sense — if you were to fund that, what does that take away elsewhere in the budget?”

Keny-Guyer said she it’s frustrating to help craft policies that she believes will help Oregonians, only to watch as the Ways and Means Committee sets them aside for lack of money. It’s happened to her before, and she hopes this year will be different.

“The big message that I keep hearing this session is if you want funding, you have to come up with (revenue),” Keny-Guyer said.

Her solution: Pare back what she calls Oregon’s “largest housing subsidy,” a tax break for homeowners known as the mortgage interest deduction.

Keny-Guyer wants to kill the mortgage interest deduction for second homes, as well as limit it for the state’s top earners. Households with at least $200,000 in annual adjusted gross income would only be able to claim a portion of the deduction; those making an adjusted quarter-million or more wouldn’t be able to claim it at all.

Estimates suggest Keny-Guyer’s proposal, House Bill 3349, would raise about $160 million during the next biennium. Keny-Guyer wants that revenue to be spent on affordable housing and homelessness.

“It’s hard for me to imagine worse places for this money to go than the wealthiest Oregonians,” Keny-Guyer said. “I’m going to fight like the dickens to have it go to housing and the most vulnerable populations.”

Republicans, even those on Keny-Guyer’s committee and sympathetic to her cause, are skeptical.

Zika pointed out that if HB 3349 passes, the Legislature could later decide to redirect those mortgage interest deduction savings — or it could slash the deduction further, so it wouldn’t just affect the 4% of Oregon taxpayers with more than $200,000 in adjusted gross income. Noble said if the state does slap limits on who can claim the mortgage interest deduction, he wants them to be indexed to inflation.

Conservatives have zeroed in on legislation like HB 3349 as an example of Democrats, who hold House and Senate supermajorities this year, trying to tax their way out of a sticky situation with the state budget. Battle lines are already being drawn over a $2 billion tax plan to fund K-12 and early childhood education; other proposals, like a payroll tax to pay for family and medical leave insurance and a sweeping plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions, have also earned the scorn of many business owners, especially outside the Portland area.

Kotek said this week that in the context of those political fights, she doesn’t think the Legislature will “need” to limit the mortgage interest deduction. Raising taxes would require Democrats to flex their supermajorities, since 18 senators and 36 representatives must approve for a tax increase to pass. She’s hoping to find money for affordable housing elsewhere in the budget.

If the Legislature were to cap the deduction, though, Kotek thinks Keny-Guyer has the right intent.

“I think we would have to dedicate it to things that are helping us with our housing crisis,” Kotek said. “Otherwise, I think it would be a hard thing to defend, because I think people understand the nexus between that particular tax break and finding some money to pay for housing.”

Legislators already have passed rent control legislation that Gov. Kate Brown signed into law — it did not require supermajority approval — and last week, the governor signed off on another housing-related bill. House Bill 3336 allows Redmond to expand its urban growth boundary to build up to 485 homes. Half of those homes would be for low-income residents.

“It’s part of a pilot project that we did,” Zika said. “Not only will it help Redmond, I think once this has been implemented and we see that cities can grow affordable housing units, then maybe we can spread it out to all the rest of the cities.”

Legislators could approve other experimental efforts to provide more housing in other areas.

Noble’s House Bill 2997 is tailored for McMinnville, allowing the city to test a broader form of “inclusionary zoning” than Oregon allows in other cities. If it becomes law, McMinnville could pass an ordinance requiring that within a new development of at least 20 apartments or houses, at least one-fifth would have to be built and maintained as affordable housing. The bill passed the House last week 51-8.

Tom Schauer, McMinnville city planner, described the proposal as a pilot project for his city. Noble said he doesn’t know if it will accomplish much, but he thinks it’s worth a shot.

“We need to look at stimulating supply to deal with our long-term housing issues, but we need to come up with something to deal with the short term,” Noble said. “We still have people on the street. We still have people that spend way too much money on housing.”

Rep. Lynn Findley, R-Vale, is sponsoring House Bill 2456, which could bring up to 100 new homes to rural Malheur County, converting two-acre parcels of marginal farmland into home sites.

“We should be able to convert those (acres) to rural residential to see if they will develop and sell and we can have some growth,” Findley said.

The concept is opposed by 1,000 Friends of Oregon. The conservationist group supports housing bills like those Kotek has proposed, but deputy director Mary Kyle McCurdy said she doesn’t believe HB 2456 addresses the affordable housing shortage, and she’s concerned about taking farmland out of production.

Findley disagrees.

“This is not ‘we’re going to do this all over,’” Findley said. “This is ‘let’s try this.’”

Mark Miller

Labour pledges to end ‘slum’ office housing

Labour says it would scrap a government scheme that allows offices and industrial buildings to be converted into homes without planning permission.

The party said changes to permitted development rules in England had led to the creation of “slum housing and rabbit hutch flats”.

It also said developers had been able to avoid building affordable homes.

The Conservatives said the plans would “cut house building and put a stop to people achieving home ownership”.

In 2013, the government changed planning rules to allow developers to turn offices, warehouses and industrial buildings into residential blocks without getting permission from the local council, in a bid to boost house building.

Barnet House
                                       House in North London is being converted to 254 flats

The rules have since been further relaxed, leading to 42,000 new dwellings being created from former offices in the last few years.

However, permitted development schemes are exempt from official space standards and also from any requirement to provide affordable homes.

Labour said the policy had seen the loss of more than 10,000 affordable homes, and meant that flats “just a few feet wide” were now counted in official statistics as new homes.

It said its policy was still to build 250,000 new homes a year in England with 100,000 being “genuinely affordable”.

“This Conservative housing free-for-all gives developers a free hand to build what they want but ignore what local communities need,” said John Healey, Labour’s shadow housing secretary.

“Labour will give local people control over the housing that gets built in their area and ensure developers build the low-cost, high-quality homes that the country needs.”

Terminus House
Image captionPolice figures show crime recorded at Terminus House, and the car park which sits beneath the housing, rose 45% in the first 10 months of it opening

In one permitted development scheme at Newbury House in Ilford, an office block has been turned into 60 flats measuring as little as 13 sq metres each.

According to national space standards, the minimum floor area for a new one-bedroom one-person home is 37 sq metres.

Critics say the schemes can be damaging to residents’ mental wellbeing, as well as being miles from amenities and conducive to crime.

At Terminus House – a converted office block in Harlow – crime jumped 45% in the first 10 months after people moved in and by 20% within that part of the town centre.

Tackling the housing crisis?

But some developers warn that without permitted development many office to residential schemes would no longer be viable.

The government says the rules are helping tackle the housing crisis and allowing people to get on the housing ladder.

Of the 13,526 homes delivered under permitted development last year, more than three quarters were built outside of London

Marcus Jones, Conservative vice-chair for Local Government, said: “Labour’s plans would cut house building and put a stop to people achieving homeownership.

“We are backing permitted development rights, which are converting dormant offices into places families can call home.

“Whilst Labour put politics before our families, the Conservatives are delivering the houses this country needs so every family has a place to call home.”

Source: BBC NEWS

400 homes in Walsall plan approved

The council’s planning committee met on Thursday and unanimously approved Walsall Housing Group’s application to build 407 homes on disused land off Goscote Lodge Crescent.

Officers had granted permission for the scheme back in November last year but the application came back to the committee following minor alterations to the plans.

The homes will consist of 68 four bedroom houses, 227 three bedroom, 80 two bedroom, 16 two bedroom bungalows and 16 one bedroom bungalows.

The development is another boost to the Goscote Lane Corridor which will see 700 homes built in the area.

Walsall Housing Group had previously submitted an application for a £56 million scheme to construct 426 homes on the site in 2017.

But that plan was pulled as an original proposal to include apartments was dropped and replaced with more family homes.

When original approval was granted in November, ward councillor Ian Robertson said he was delighted because the area had become a blight for anti-social behaviour and fly-tipping.

He said: “I am keen to see the work start as the site has suffered problems with anti-social behaviour and fly-tipping.

“There is a real need for this development. People are struggling to get affordable housing.”

Source: By Megan Archer

Major plans for 1,500 homes earmarked for greenbelt land

Plans to build 1,500 homes on greenbelt land in a scheme worth £218.5 million are in the pipeline – with some vowing to fight it tooth and nail.

An artist’s impression of how the proposed housing development will look. Picture: BHB Architects
The sprawling development has been earmarked for agricultural fields separating Pheasey and Streetly.

The development would be called Columba Park and forms part of wider plans to address housing shortages in the West Midlands.

But Pheasey Park Farm ward councillor and Walsall Council leader Mike Bird believes the development won’t go ahead – as it is a “developer trying to take their chance”.

Developers have been invited by Black Country councils to put forward sites which can be considered for new housing developments, to tackle housing shortages in the region.

Councillor Bird said: “We are being told that there’s not enough room – or brownfield sites – for homes in Birmingham and Sandwell so they are being pushed out to other areas.

“There are a number of sites being promoted by developers who are trying to take their chance.

“If a planning application was to go ahead, a decision wouldn’t be made until 2022. The final decision will rest with the cabinet.”

He added: “It is a green belt site, a developer is chancing their arm. We will defend these sites against any unnecessary housing on greenbelt land.”

The proposed development is located on fields off Queslett Road and Aldridge Road.

It follows a review by the Black Country Core Strategy.

This said 22,000 homes are needed in the Black Country by 2036 due to a growing population.

Since then developers have been invited to come up with locations for new housing developments,

Council bosses would rather build on brownfield sites however greenbelt land could still be considered. Each proposal would need to be decided on by the relevant council.

A planning document for Columba Park said: “The Black Country’s need for new homes cannot be met on land within the urban area alone and the growth should therefore be met in the most sustainable and deliverable locations such as at Columba Park.

“Columba Park presents a unique opportunity to combine meeting housing needs with the delivery of a well-planned, landscape-led proposal.”

Source: By Jamie Brassington

Hagerstown Gets Federal Grant for Affordable Housing, Development

Hagerstown will receive more than $770,000 in federal grants for affordable housing and community development work.

U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, both D-Md., made the announcement Friday. Hagerstown’s grant of $771,221 was part of nearly $4 million in total awards for communities in Western Maryland, the senators announced.

The money Hagerstown received is its annual Community Development Block Grant award, according to an email sent Monday by Jonathan Kerns, the city’s community development manager, and Wes Decker, the communications officer.

They wrote that the city’s CDBG program focuses on “visible and impactful community development projects.”

“Activities are carried out to revitalize the city’s urban core, to enhance neighborhoods throughout the city, and improve the quality of life for all city residents,” the email states.

According to the email, some recent uses of that money include:

• The acquisition and renovation of vacant properties at 261 S. Prospect St. and 64 E. Franklin St. The homes are available for resale to low- or moderate-income homebuyers.

• The construction of crosswalks at Prospect Avenue/Forest Drive and at Salem Avenue/Linganore Avenue to enhance safety.

• The rehabilitation of the Potterfield Pool filtration system and pool building renovations.

• Construction of National Road Park, which occupies the space where an old market once stood at 806 W. Washington St. The property was acquired through a donation.

In a news release, the senators announced that the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Community Planning and Development allocated $2.4 million combined through the CDBG program for Cumberland, Frederick, Gaithersburg and Hagerstown.

Fredrick also received more than $1.5 million through the Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS Program, which increases affordable housing for low-income people living with AIDS/HIV.

In addition, the state received more than $15 million in grants for jurisdictions across Maryland for low-income and emergency housing.

“Every Marylander — every American — deserves a safe and affordable place to call home,” Cardin said in the news release. “These federal funds target those who need it most — including the low and very-low income, people with HIV-AIDS and their families, and individuals experiencing homelessness — while giving local leaders freedom to address the problem in a way that makes the most sense for their communities.”

The CDBG program provides annual grants to states and local governments to develop viable urban communities by providing decent housing and a suitable living environment, and by expanding economic opportunities, principally for low- and moderate-income persons.

“These federal investments have a positive, real world impact on people across our state, including right here in Western Maryland. This is a successful targeted program to expand economic opportunity and to provide a hand-up to people struggling to make ends meet,” Van Hollen said.

Kanu Nwankwo Partners Real Estate Group for Affordable Homes in Nigeria

Former Captain of the Super Eagles of Nigeria, Kanu Nwankwo has said for Nigeria to meet the housing deficit currently facing the country, the masses must have access to affordable homes.

Kanu made this assertion in Lagos on Sunday while fielding questions from journalists ahead of an event on Easter Monday put together by a real estate company, Perfection Real Estate Group.

The ex-international who is the ambassador of the property group said Perfection Real Estate Group is a known company Nigerians can trust.

“Perfection Real Estate Group is a known company that is into property and it is a company you can trust. This is a company that wants to help Nigerians in the areas of housing, giving them befitting homes to settle in,” he said.

The former Ajax Amsterdam player added that, “As a growing company, the group at the same time is out to help the masses to see that properties are affordable and they are trustworthy people to patronise.”

“Kanu, one of Africa’s most decorated footballers is however wishing the masses could access cheaper housing which the country would benefit from.  “You can see that the country needs more houses for the people and the people cannot afford the expensive ones, there is a program where by houses can be affordable with Perfection Real Estate Group.”

Talking about the relationship between the Perfection Real Estate Group and his Kanu Heart Foundation, founder of the Kanu Heart Foundation, Kanu Nwankwo said, there is a synergy between Perfection and Kanu Heart Foundation in the sense that certain percentage of earnings of Perfection Real Estate Group would go to support the Kanu Heart Foundation.

“Whatever they make from this venture, they are going to give an amount to help the poor who cannot get medical sponsors. So the Kanu Heart Foundation and Perfection Real Estate Group  are working together not only to help the less privileged in areas of property but also in the area of health.”

Knowing that Nigerians would subscribe to the property business, the footballer however assures Nigerians that the venture is a genuine one. “The people will subscribe to the property because of my name but if you cannot deliver something that is good, there is problem. From the name Perfection, they are perfect in what they are doing,” he assures the public.

He however laments that Nigeria has not fully maximized football which he referred to as a unifying tool for Nigeria. “Football is very important and it is a major tool that we Nigerians are neglecting, it is one thing that brings us together, and the journey has not been easy.

“So going by the background I come from, I am just a good example for the young people that working hard, sacrificing and putting in everything that you can put in will get you result not only in football but in everything,” he said.

On his future plan for the Kanu Heart Foundation, the Atlanta 96 gold medalist said his plan is to make sure that the foundation establishes its own hospital in the future in order to safe costs.

“It is just to make sure that Kanu Heart Foundation will have a hospital in the future. We have spent a lot of money taking the kids outside the country and if we can do that, we can achieve it. It is a dream and we are working towards it. It has not been easy but I believe someday we would have our own hospital,” he prays.


Realising Affordable Housing for Workers in Nigeria

The emerging climate of reform at the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) is necessary, timely and commendable. The results in terms of increased access to affordable housing loans, reduced turnaround time for processing applications for mortgage loans and better delivery of FMBN funded housing projects give hope for a new era of affordable housing delivery for Nigerian workers. Marks of high-performance dot key aspects of the bank’s operations.

Take the distinctly historic number of housing loans to Nigerian workers that the bank has processed in the past 22 months.

Recent statistics from the bank show that between April 2017 to February 2019, the FMBN processed and disbursed 21,741 housing loans totaling N55billion. This represents an average of over N25billion worth of housing loan disbursements per year.

To better grasp the historic significance of this achievement, consider that from 1992 – April 2017, before the new management came on board, the FMBN had only disbursed a total of N152billion to 19.671 beneficiaries – averaging N6.3bn per year! The difference is massive.

Equally noteworthy is the dramatic increase in the speed of handling applications for refund of National Housing Fund (NHF) contributions to by workers who have retired from service. Within this same period, statistics reveal that the bank has treated a total of 116,560 refund cases totalling N15.7 billion. As at April 2017, when the new management took over, only 132,605 cases totalling N10.5billion were treated in the over two decades of the bank’s history.

This positive trajectory of high performance and responsiveness at the FMBN is evidence of a new leadership dynamic. Notably, it demonstrates that the new FMBN management understands the urgent need to improve service delivery and is committed to increasing access by Nigerian workers to its suite of affordable housing solutions. Secondly, it shows the bank’s respect for the humanity of the Nigerian worker by ensuring that workers, who have contributed dutifully to the NHF fund, have quick access to their contributions soon as they leave service and apply for their funds.

The emerging positive indices of deepening access to mortgage loans demonstrates the inherent potential of the FMBN to play a leading role in government’s efforts to sustainably tackle the problem of affordable social housing delivery to Nigerian workers. It’s potency as an effective housing policy tool also underscores the need for housing industry stakeholders, the public and well-meaning Nigerians to support ongoing efforts to bolster and strengthen the capacity of the FMBN for greater and more expansive impact.

Despite challenges, which can be corrected, the FMBN remains Nigerian workers’ most affordable route to owning a home. For instance, workers who contribute to the National Housing Fund (NHF) that the bank manages, can access housing loans of up to N15million at best market rates of between six per cent and nine per cent and pay back over tenors of up to 30 years.

The new FMBN management has also reduced requirement for equity contributions to lessen the financial burden on workers. For loans under N5 million workers do not need to pay any equity contribution while for loans ranging from N5 million and N15 million, only 10 per cent is required.

Clearly, the FMBN housing loan offer stands out when compared to those on offer by commercial banks, who typically charge interest rates of up to N25 per cent for tenors of less than 15 years in addition to very stiff requirements and collateral. This strengthens the case for it as a more potent tool for driving affordable housing delivery with a focus on the Nigerian worker.

In the last quarter of 2018, the FMBN as part of efforts to ensure greater value for workers who contribute to the NHF scheme, commenced work on the National Affordable Housing Delivery Program for Nigerian workers. The program – to build and deliver decent, safe and quality housing for Nigerian workers at a price that they can afford – is a collaboration with the labor union including the Nigerian Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Nigerian Employers’ Consultative Assembly (NECA) was launched nationwide.

Under the pilot phase of the project, about 1,400 housing units in a mix of one bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom units are planned for construction and delivery at fourteen sites nationwide. 200 housing units are to be built in each of the six geopolitical zones with 100 units in two selected states while Abuja and Lagos are to be treated as special sites. The house types designed for construction under the program are based on proven social housing models with prices ranging from N3.1M to N8.3 million.

Recently, the FMBN Management team led by Arc. Ahmed M. Dangiwa commenced an inspection and assessment tour of the project sites to monitor construction progress and quality of work done. The management team visited the five hectare project site in Nasarawa State along the new Kwandare, Keffi road Lafia and noted with satisfaction the pace of construction work by the developer at the site.

“The quality of work and it’s impressive. We have made few observations and drawn the attention of the developer to make necessary corrections within time.  We have also noted that the developer is within completion period. However, we are urging him to deliver within the next 30 days so that we can commission this project so that off takers can start enjoying the houses,” Dangiwa observed.

The FMBN Management team also visited the 100-housing unit project site in Lokoja, Kogi State where it also noted that the contractor is on schedule to deliver the project as planned.

In his remarks after the project site tour, the FMBN MD/CEO was quoted to have said: “With the level of progress that we have seen from the developer, we are optimistic that the project will be ready for commissioning next month as scheduled. The developer has almost finished most of the internal work, the tiling, the ceiling, electrical and plumbing work for over 80 of the houses, the remaining ones are being roofed now.

He has also commenced the infrastructure. The drainage has already been constructed, the roads have been levelled, and ready to receive MC1 and asphalt. The electrical aspect is already in place, the tank, the water reticulation is already done, and he has sunk two boreholes with a good yield to serve the entire estate. In a nutshell we are highly impressed”

With the reported progress at the sites visited, there are many reasons to believe that this affordable social housing project will succeed and not become yet another abandoned national project.

The first reason is the availability of funds to ensure project delivery as well as selection and mobilisation of competent developers. The Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria has leveraged its pool of funds from the National Housing Fund to finance the construction work and delivery of the project. The bank has already mobilized reputable indigenous developers with the capacity to deliver to start work. The rapid and simultaneous construction activities at the pilot sites of the project nationwide inspire hope for the speedy delivery of the projects within the 6-months timeframe as planned.

The second reason is the active involvement of the labour unions in the design of the program. The participation of leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress and Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association in the development of the framework for delivering the project made it possible for them to make constructive inputs to the housing designs, selling prices and conditions for delivering the project. This has given them a strong sense of ownership of the project, a critical factor for its success.

It is also heart-warming that a plan is in place to ensure that once the houses are built and delivered, the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria will provide mortgage loans through selected Primary Mortgage Banks (PMBs) to Nigerian workers that contribute to the National Housing Fund (NHF) to enable them to purchase the houses and repay over a maximum period of 30 years.

Unarguably, the past 22 months have revealed a strikingly new commitment by the management of the FMBN to the bank’s mandate and the urgency of reforming the mortgage institution so it can have greater and more expansive impact. The Arc. Dangiwa-led management has taken bold actions and posted impressive performance results to prove their capacity to deliver. For a stronger FMBN, it is imperative that housing industry stakeholders and the public rally in support of their efforts to reform and reposition the FMBN as a key institutional tool for tackling the country’s housing crisis.

Terungwa Isaac

FG plans new strategies to tackle housing deficit

The Federal Government has restated its readiness to address housing deficit in the country through the introduction of new services designed to assist low-income earners and pensioners.

The Deputy General Manager, Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, Sunday Ogunmuyiwa, stated this in Osogbo, Osun State, at a day seminar organised by the bank to sensitise the state and private sector employees to the need to join the scheme.

He said the FMBN had introduced a couple of new services to underscore its readiness to make houses available and affordable to more Nigerians.

“The services are individual construction loan, home renovation loan, rent-to-own loan scheme and Cooperative Housing Development Loan, among others. The National Housing Fund Mortgage Loan is still very much active and available to contributors,” Ogunmuyiwa said.

He assured the people that the bank would ensure that retirees, contributing to the NHF scheme, would get their refunds processed within three months of application.

In his remarks, Osun State Coordinator of the FMBN, Arowolo Babatunde, lamented that accessing long-time credit facility for home acquisition or development of personal homes had been a great challenge among low-income earners in the country.

He blamed the situation on the cost of land, challenges associated with land-grabbers and housing boom due to the high demand created by a rising population.

He appealed to the Osun State Government to further reduce the cost of obtaining titles so as to facilitate the creation of more mortgage facilities in the state.

Source: By Bola Bamigbola

Why Nigeria Should Start Looking into Eco-friendly Housing

As the effects of climate change are felt across the world and with the construction industry responsible for as much as 40 percent of man-made carbon emissions, both governments and individuals are beginning to take the task of building eco-friendly houses much more seriously.

Fuelled by increased demand, a new industry of eco-friendly home building has grown up and a whole host of technological innovations have created an arsenal of eco-friendly building materials and techniques. From wind turbines, to solar panels, to high efficiency lighting, ultra efficient insulation, glazing, water conservation, plumbing, recycling and much more.

With nearly 200 million people, Nigeria has a huge housing deficit of about 17 million units, and environmentally friendly building is a low priority. There is an even greater shortage of affordable housing for low-income earners.

Many experts in the industry believe that it will be a great opportunity for Nigeria to reduce its housing gap by looking into affordable and environmentally safe housing models. Its cost effectiveness and eco-friendliness should according to experts, be a motivation factor for Nigeria to start considering this viable option


What Eco-friendly Housing Means

The term “eco-friendly” literally means “not environmentally harmful” according to Merriam-Webster, and its first known use was in 1989; although the term “environmentally friendly” is older, dating back to 1971. Most commonly used when referring to products that contribute to green living and other sustainable practices, eco-friendly products also prevent pollution in the land, air and water.

An Eco-house (or eco-home) is an environmentally low-impact home designed and built using materials and technology that reduces its carbon footprint and lowers its energy needs.


An eco-house could include some or all of the following: Higher than normal levels of thermal insulation, Better than normal airtightness, Good levels of daylight, Passive solar orientation — glazing oriented south for light and heat, Thermal mass to absorb that solar heat, Minimum north-facing glazing — to reduce heat loss, Mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) system, Heating from renewable resources (such as solar, heat pump or biomass), Photovoltaic panels, small wind turbine or electricity from a ‘green’ supplier, Natural materials — avoidance of PVCu and other plastics, Rainwater harvesting, Greywater collection, Composting toilet, Glass that has two or three layers with a vacuum in between to prevent heat loss; (double or triple-glazed windows), Solar panels or wind turbines, Geothermal heating and growing plants on the roof to regulate temperature, quieten the house, and to produce oxygen, A vegetable patch outside the house for some food.

The concept of an eco-house means a dwelling that has a low impact on the environment.

Why Eco-friendly Houses are Important

The principle behind eco-friendly building is to create structures that are safe with little or no impact on the environment or the occupants’ health. As the Environmental Protection Agency notes, this involves:
Ensuring occupant health: A house is not just a structure that protects us from the elements, it is a space where people spend most of their lives at home or work. So it is necessary that houses do not harm the occupants in any way.


Efficient use of resources: Given the over-exploitation of resources and considering that many are non-renewable, it is necessary to use them efficiently. This is especially true for fossil fuels, mined metals and even for renewable materials like wood which take a long time to grow.

Preventing pollution and environmental degradation: Production of the building materials, the construction process, the energy used during occupancy, and disposal of construction waste at the end of a building’s life should not pollute or create hazardous waste.

Energy Efficiency and Alternative Energy: The ideal green home can be planned and designed to be energy efficient. Passive solar design ensures that all the aspects of the house work to reduce the amount of energy needed to heat or cool it. Furthermore, alternative energy sources can be used during occupancy to reduce carbon emissions. Other simple measures to help energy efficiency and save energy include fitting eco-friendly light bulbs, buying Energy Star electrical appliances and ensuring that heaters have thermostats attached. Use of light and heating can be limited only to rooms that are being used.

Water Conservation: Water is an important resource and one that often gets overlooked. Being more aware of water usage is an essential part in running a green home. Low flow toilets and front loading washing machines are both interesting alternatives. Low water landscapes instead of grass lawns can be attractive, fun and colorful, as Home Designed Inspired shows. They also require less maintenance making them more interesting. Rainwater harvesting systems can collect rain from roofs and concrete paths in the garden and help to reduce water demand.

These aims have to be kept in mind while planning, sourcing materials, designing house-plans, construction and during occupancy. The principles have application in renovating old houses and constructing new eco-friendly or green buildings as they are also called. However, it is new construction projects that have the opportunity to maximize benefit from all aspects of the process.

Nigeria and Eco-friendly Housing

Up until now, there hasn’t been a major government policy on building eco-friendly homes in Nigeria, safe for the limited private sector investments in that area.

According to the Co-founder of Ecobuild Nigeria, Olubayo John, the use of Ecobeam system enables them to deliver quality green houses at up to 40% less than it would cost using sandcrete blocks and cement mortar, the most predominant building system in Nigeria at the moment.

According to him, eco-friendly homes are very important because there are ideas for every kind of budget.


‘’Whether you’re building a new house or remodelling an old one, you have plenty of options for building that incorporate environmentally-friendly options. Advice from green builders can be a valuable asset to capitalize on benefits from eco-friendly houses,’’ he said.

This is clearly an area that stakeholders should intimate the government to look into, given that the cost of building eco-friendly houses are even cost effective compared to the traditional types. It will save cost and help the country adapt to climate change at the same time.

But hopes are not lost as it will dominate one of the discussions at the upcoming 13th Abuja International Housing Show from 23rd to 26th July this year. According to the event’s convener, Bar. Festus Adebayo, there will be panels on eco-friendly housing and related issues spearheaded by the World bank, GIZ and other interested stakeholders. The resolutions from these panels, especially because it will also be attended by government officials can begin a new era for housing access in Nigeria.

By Felix Ojonugbwa

Housing associations are the key to building more homes

Residential development companies borne out of housing associations are pioneering a model many have called for

When Sajid Javid presented his White Paper, “Fixing our broken housing market”, to parliament in February 2017 he recognised that the very structure of the housing market makes it harder to increase supply. In particular, he made the point that a handful of very large private sector companies were responsible for around 60% of all new private homes.

Although not in itself a bad thing in terms of economy of scale the very model that they, without exception, operate – a single-trader, mono-tenure model – fundamentally acts as a barrier to significantly increasing supply. Oliver Letwin in his “Independent review of build out” succinctly points out that a housebuilder’s business model relies on a build-out rate that is dictated by a local absorption rate that will not impact on market price (were it to do so their model would be fundamentally flawed), therefore this tends to slow down rather than speed up build-out rates.

A single-trader, mono-tenure model – fundamentally acts as a barrier to significantly increasing supply

The conclusion of Letwin was to say that if major housebuilders (or others) were to offer housing of more varying types, design and tenures the overall absorption rate could be substantially increased. These different tenure groups will potentially have a two-fold impact on the value of the land as well as the margin return. Both of which would significantly change the business model of the housebuilder.

Trying to adjust land values to recognise a more blended tenure mix is not a short-term fix, without specific planning intervention. Landowners will be loth to take a writedown in land value based on a proposition that chooses to provide a more balanced approach to product and tenure. Only a change in planning policy is likely to convince them of their new land value.

Trying to adjust land values to recognise a more blended tenure mix is not a short-term fix, without specific planning intervention

Rental and intermediate tenures, if weighted too much into the development, will not provide the housebuilder with the return that has become expected by the City. It could be argued that for them the risk associated with these predominantly pre-sold products is vastly diminished, however, the housebuilders are reluctant to accept this, particularly at a time when resource – both management and trade – is scarce and they are looking to maximise return from this limitation.

This provides a context to a residential sector that has struggled to increase significantly the amount of housing over the last few decades.

Residential development companies borne out of housing associations predominantly look to deliver a much more blended product and tenure range

I believe however that the fundamental structural change that Sajid Javid refers to and which Oliver Letwin defaults to is actually happening at pace. Not through the traditional housebuilder but through the new breed of residential development companies borne out of housing associations. The structural change builds from the growing influence and impact of these companies on residential development and delivery:

  • Their models predominantly look to deliver a much more blended product and tenure range, typically 50% affordable, 25% intermediate and 25% open market
  • They have longer-term business plans that can react to changing market conditions
  • A substantial amount of their build programme is counter-cyclical
  • They have patient money that looks for returns over a much longer period than the housebuilder model
  • They do not answer to the City and therefore are not pushed into counterintuitive actions
  • The returns and surpluses they make are pumped back into housing and not lost to shareholders
  • They have a long-term financial and social interest in the assets that they are creating which encourages investment in a different way; and finally,
  • The government can channel funding through these bodies without fear that it ends up as big bonus pay-outs for private sector bosses (see the recent furore around Jeff Fairburn at Persimmon).

All of these things are structurally changing the residential sector, which is likely to accelerate as these organisations gain more scale and maturity.

In addition, we are seeing the impact that these new development organisations are having on the collaborative working environment and the engagement models. Their need to attract private sector skills has created the need for joint ventures and a totally different way for the strategic residential players to engage with each other. The sharing of skills, knowledge, resource and return has been a revelation for the sector, driving a significantly new delivery environment.

The sharing of skills, knowledge, resource and return has been a revelation for the sector, driving a significantly new delivery environment

The White Paper highlighted the poor performance in construction productivity over the last 25 years, 11% improvement against the general economy improvement of 40%. It has long been recognised that construction is a very inefficient sector requiring significant investment in research and development if it is to improve. Again, in areas such as modern methods of construction the traditional housebuilder model has been a barrier, a constraint on the innovative thinking and more importantly investment required to drive this initiative forward.

These new development organisations, supported by the government, do have the model, the will and necessary financial headroom to pioneer the big ideas around smart homes and provide, yet again, another major strand to the structural change that Sajid envisaged.

Source: By Richard Jones, Housing Today.

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