Practitioners in the construction industry Draw Roadmap To Improved Housing

With the year 2018 ending on a rather not encouraging note for practitioners in the building construction industry, and considering that 2019 is an election year, key stakeholders in the industry are of the view that not much is expected to happen in the industry prior to May 29.

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According to them, there is uncertainty in the political arena with funds being diverted towards the success of the election. For them, it is not a favourable time to invest in the housing construction sector as the fear of policy summersault in the event of a change in government may prevent investors, especially from outside the country, from investing their funds.

Notwithstanding the seeming apathy in the sector, the views of some notable professionals in the industry, who have preferred roadmap to improve housing delivery in the course of the year was sought.

One point that, however, runs through their thoughts is the realization that there is a shortfall and that something ought to be done, if urgently, to ameliorate the situation.

Affordable housing leaders call for end to government shutdown

The partial government shutdown is now in its third week, and affordable housing leaders are demanding that it come to an end.On December 21, 2018, Congress did not pass a spending bill that included the president’s requested $5 billion in funding for a border wall, and President Donald Trump refused to sign any bill that did not include that funding, resulting in a partial government shutdown.

And now no one is really sure how long it could last. In fact, during a negotiation meeting with top Democrats, Trump said the shutdown could go on for “months or even years.”

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The letter called on Congress to pass full-year spending bills that provide strong funding for affordable housing and community development programs.

The campaign, led by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, expressed concern over the shutdown’s immediate and long-term impact on affordable housing programs and low-income people. The letter explained that individuals working without pay, including janitors, security guards and cafeteria servers, are at risk of being unable to cover their rent payments.

“The longer the shutdown continues, the more the lowest income people will be hard hit,” NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel said. “Residents living in HUD-subsidized properties are some of our country’s most vulnerable people – the clear majority are deeply poor seniors, people with disabilities, and families with children.”

“They rely on government assistance to remain housed, and a prolonged government shutdown puts them at increased risk of eviction and potentially homelessness,” Yentel said. “It’s incredibly reckless to risk the homes of our country’s lowest-income and most vulnerable people as perceived leverage for a border wall.”

Their full letter, addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, stresses the impact the shutdown is having on vulnerable communities.

The National Association of Realtors also released its own assessment of the shutdown’s impact. NAR estimates the shutdown is having an impact on about 25% of home sales – 11% on current clients, 11% on potential clients and 8% on other impacts.

The main reason for this impact was 25% of affected homebuyers said they decided not to buy due to general economic uncertainty. Another 17% were affected by the delay of U.S. Department of Agriculture loans, and 13% experienced a delay due to Internal Revenue Service verification (which it just announced it will resume again.)

“The housing industry was already facing market challenges before any government closure,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said. “The shutdown has made matters worse.”

“A home purchase is a major expenditure that simultaneously involves a high level of excitement and anxiety, and the current government shutdown adds another layer of unnecessary complication to the home buying process,” Yun said. “The shutdown is causing tangible harm to potential buyers, the real estate market and economic growth.”

Developers secure tax credits for affordable housing projects

Two affordable housing projects slated for Northwest Indiana have received a financial boost from the state. The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority has signed off on a rental housing tax credits and a development loan for UP Development’s project in East Chicago’s North Harbor section and Miller-Valentine Group’s project in Gary’s downtown area.

The two firms’ projects, estimated at $11.3 million apiece, are being carried out under Indiana’s Moving Forward 3.0 program. Each firm will receive $930,000 in tax credits and a $500,000 loan to put toward development.

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Obtaining site control and having the property properly zoned were key aspects to the firms’ tax credit applications last year, IHCDA’s Executive Director Jacob Sipe said. The Moving Forward program is designed to increase quality of life for low- to moderate-income families by conveniently placing housing sites near transportation networks and jobs. Each site will be built with energy efficiency in mind.

Gov. Eric Holcomb selected East Chicago as one of two sites because the city is grappling with the lead contamination crisis at the USS Lead Superfund site and the tear-down of the West Calumet Housing Complex that resulted in the loss of 346 public housing units.

The East Chicago housing project is being dubbed “Alder Place,” providing newly constructed one- and two-bedroom apartments at 2301 Broadway St.

Key features will include a first floor community space and net zero energy consumption, along with a “wage and asset growth plan” that addresses inhabitants’ health and well-being, housing, education, financial stability and employment needs, records show.

In all, the structure will have 16 one-bedroom rentals and 12 two-bedroom rentals.

Records show the development will also include multi-modal transportation options through a partnership with Active Transit Alliance, a Chicago area group dedicated to creating bike and pedestrian-based transportation networks that fuel healthy living.

East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland called the housing project “all part of a comprehensive plan to help make East Chicago a destination,” with a bustling mix of storefronts, homes and green space, steps away from a newly renovated Jeorse Park on Lake Michigan.

“The downtown district has gained much traction when it comes to successful redevelopment projects throughout the years and this project will only help us move East Chicago further and forward. We are grateful for this Moving Forward 3.0 Program and are happy that the state, UP Development and the city have partnered up to bring this project to fruition and help achieve this goal,” Copeland said.

They have argued the state’s housing authority made promises the area would be selected for development.

IHCDA Executive Director Jacob Sipe said Holcomb’s executive order merely ordered IHCDA to “continue efforts to identify and encourage the financing of new development for affordable rental housing in the Each Chicago area.”

While the impacted neighborhoods were in the Superfund site, ICHDA “could not and never did commit” that the development would be located there, Sipe told The Times.

“We have tried to clarify this misinformation multiple times with the community groups,” he added, noting IHCDA continues to be supportive of revitalization efforts in the West Calumet neighborhood.

City redevelopment officials have said Miller-Valentine’s housing project at Seventh and Broadway in Gary will be a significant game-changer in the city’s transformation of downtown.

In all, the complex will host 27 loft-style one-bedroom and 11 two-bedroom units at 701 Broadway in Gary, featuring high-efficiency heating and cooling, rooftop solar panels and a greenhouse for growing fresh foods.

Northwest Indiana Community Action Corp. will provide workforce and health care assistance, and a WIC clinic will be on-site, records state.

The Moving Forward program was launched in 2015 by the IHCDA and Energy Systems Network, a nonprofit initiative focused on advancing development in the energy technology sector.

Source: nwitimes.com

Senator proposes bill to tackle affordable housing in State

As housing affordability continues to trouble America’s housing industry and homebuyers, some lawmakers are taking a stand.

Utah Senator Jake Anderegg, R-Lehi, has proposed a “major financial boost” in the form of a bill that could transform how the state navigates affordable residential construction.

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According to the article, Utah’s Olene Walker Housing Loan Fund, which is the state’s top source of low-interest lending to affordable residential construction, could receive a boost in funding from the newly proposed SB34.

The bill, which was introduced ahead of the beginning of the state’s legislative session, could bring $20 million into the fund, potentially followed by another $4 million each year thereafter. Furthermore, SB34 could promote housing affordability by permitting mother-in-law apartments and encouraging construction of high-density housing near transit lines, according to the article.

The bill also seeks to tie moderate-income housing developments more closely with transportation corridors, while providing new penalties for municipalities that make no plan for future housing. But one thing SB34 wouldn’t do is mandate construction of new affordable housing units.

According to reports,SB34 would require housing plans submitted by cities to include analysis that illustrate how municipalities would realistically create opportunities for the development of moderate income housing within the next five years.

“I don’t think the government can solve this problem,” Anderegg said in an interview. “But I do think government could be a huge catalyst in helping solve the problem, in partnership with good developers and lending institutions.”

How cost of building materials affect delivery of affordable housing

The responsibility to set a convenient business space is that of government. Government may not have business in business though this should not create alibi for government to abdicate its responsibilities in regulating the business environment. The enabling environment allows the small and big players to co-exist. The coexistence leads to very healthy competition which in turn leads to a better consumer marketer. Unfortunately, this government has practically politicized every aspect of our lives. The will to take decisions that benefit the majority of Nigerians is totally absent. To buttress this postulation, I have decided to share this empherical historical evidence with my teaming readers with credit to the Society for Business and Management Dynamics” 1999

An ambitious housing policy was launched by the then military government in 1991 with a slogan

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“Housing for All by the Year 2000A.D’’. The goal was for all Nigerians to have access to decent housing at affordable cost before the end of year 2000 A.D. The housing needs in the country as at that the lunch of the policy stand at about 8 million units including projection in meeting the policy target in both rural and urban centers in response to united nations advocacy which calls for housing for all by the year 2000A.D (Ogunrayewa and Madaki, 1999).This is through adequate involvement of the private sector in infrastructural provision and to serve as the main vehicle for organization and delivery of housing

Business Management Dynamics Vol.3, No.2 Aug 201, pp.60 -68 Society for Business and Management Dynamics products and services (Yakubu, 2004; Aribigbola, 2008).The policy estimated that 700,000 housing units are to be built each year if housing deficit is to be cancelled of which about 60percent of the houses are to be built in urban centers. The policy restructured the financial routing of accessing housing loans by way of creating a two tier financial structure, which is the federal mortgage bank of Nigeria as the apex and supervisory institution and primary mortgage institutions as primary lenders. However, in 2007 the

FMBN conceded supervisory functions to CBN (Yakubu, 2004; Aribigbola, 2008).The FMBN nevertheless was empowered through decree no. 82 of 1993 to collects, manage and administer contributions to the National Housing Fund (NHF) from registered individuals and companies. The National Housing Fund is the product of the 1992 Housing Policy of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

According to The Nigerian Economist (1992) Decree No. 3 of 1992 which was packaged against the background of the National Housing, Policy (NHP), is a legal instrument for mandating individuals and government to pool resources into the National Housing Fund (NHF). The NHF can be seen as the ultimate culmination of the previous efforts of governments in Nigeria at housing provisioning. The policy establishing the NHF emanated from recognition of the severe housing problems in most of Nigeria’s urban areas (Anugwom and Anugwom, 1999). Therefore, the policy took cognizance of both the qualitative (existence of substandard housing,) and quantitative (severe housing shortages) nature of the problem. The 1992 Decree more or less pursued the original objectives outlined in the National Housing Policy: (1980); the main objectives of which were:

a. To ensure that the provision of housing units are based on realistic standards which the house owners can afford;

b. To give priority to housing programmes designed to benefit the low income group; and

c. To encourage every household to own its own house through the provision of more credit or fund (this specific objective more or less crystallised into the NHF).Apart from these previous objectives, the 1992 policy aimed at keeping in line with the enabling objective of the United Nations Commission on Human Settlements.

Thus, it was geared towards mobilising resources for effective house ownership by workers while at the same time de-emphasising the intrusiveness of government in the housing sector. The NHF was initially meant to facilitate the now discarded vision of housing for all by the year 2000A.D which was long being over taken by events.

California real estate is so expensive that families, retirees, and even tech workers are living in cars and vans

  • California real estate is so expensive that families, retirees, and even the employed are living in cars, vans, and boats.
  • A recent Slate article explored the rising epidemic and found that 15,000 people live in vehicles in Los Angeles alone.
  • Local governments are attempting to crack down on the problem, which has led to the rise of safe parking programs.

Cars are no longer just a means of transportation. In a time when rents are soaring and housing prices are on the climb, they’re also doubling as a home.

Look no further than California, where the median price for a home is at a record high of $600,000 and sleeping in cars is a common occurrence. A recent Slate article explored the rising epidemic on America’s West Coast and found that 15,000 people live in cars, vans, and RVs in Los Angeles alone, citing the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. That’s not counting car dwellers in other expensive California cities, like San Diego and San Francisco.

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The problem has become so severe that local governments are trying to “tighten parking restrictions or ban vehicle residency,” writes Slate reporter Amy Pollard. These crackdowns have led to the rise of safe parking programs. Run by nonprofits and some city governments, they try to accommodate vehicle residents with safety rules and regulations, according to Slate.

Dreams for Change in San Diego runs three lots with 150 spaces and 325 residents (people often share a car) — each space costs $2,950 a year for the company to operate. Caseworkers visit often, there is no entry after 10 p.m., RVs aren’t allowed, and neither are sex offenders.

“In the tight housing markets of West Coast cities, it’s not just the destitute or the unemployed who see their cars as their best option,” writes Pollard, adding that the residents of Dreams for Change consist of families, retirees, and even tech workers making near six figures.

In San Francisco, 59% of employees at tech companies can’t afford homes, Business Insider’s Melia Robinson previously reported, citing stats from Blind, an app for tech workers.

Graham Pruss, a researcher and former outreach worker for Seattle’s Road to Housing program, told Slate that cars are “a new form of affordable housing” in Seattle too, adding that he’s met Amazon workers who live in vehicles while saving up money to buy a home one day.

People are living in boats and vans too

Californians in need of housing aren’t picky — they’re also resorting to living in boats and vans.

Misa Gidding-Chatfield and Mike Kraft decided to live in San Francisco Bay on a 900 square-foot houseboat to save money, Robinson reported. At $300,000, it cost less to buy than a half-million dollar home on the outskirts of the Bay Area.

Tracey Kaplan, a reporter for the Bay Area News Group, also considered a houseboat, but didn’t want the $1,500 slip fees. Instead, she cashed out her retirement fund to buy a cargo van for $53,894, she explained in an article for The Mercury News. She’s spending an additional $37,000 on renovating it into a home.

Both options are still way cheaper than a traditional house in Bay Area, where a median-priced home sells for $1.9 million and buyers commonly bid hundreds of thousands above asking prices, Robinson reported. Consequently, only about 12% of households can afford a home there.

Joining the #vanlife movement helps Kaplan avoid spending most of her salary on a place to live in San Francisco and allows her to save more so she can travel when retired.

“I spent years anxiously searching for a viable housing solution that would allow me to retire in the Bay Area without going broke,” she wrote in the article. As the trend grows in popularity around the Bay Area, her biggest concern is finding a place to legally park her new home.

“I’ve already found some unusual solutions, including getting permission to sleep in a secluded lot in an industrial area of San Jose and renting a spot for a small fee in the Santa Cruz Mountains,” she wrote. “Many vanners ‘stealth park,’ a practice that refers to camping secretly, which often includes parking illegally. But I hope I don’t have to.”

Source: Hillary Hoffower

Cooperative, devt partners plan N20bn affordable housing scheme

Staff Multi-Purpose Cooperative Society Limited of the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) (NPDC-SMPCS) and their development partners are perfecting plans to build a mini city that will offer affordable housing to the members of the co-operative.
The new housing scheme to be known as Golden City Estate is to be located at Utesi near Benin, in the Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area of Edo City and is estimated to cost N2 billion on completion.
Amos Mabur, president, NPDC- SMPCS, explained that the housing project wouldl be executed in partnership with three development partners that would provide funding and technical expertise while the cooperative provides the land. These partners are Dreamcity Property And Investments Limited, Citiprops Limited and Landscape Transformers Limited.
Mabur who spoke at the site re-opening and ground breaking ceremony for the construction of 2-Mega Watts Captive Power Plant in Benin-City, hinted that the estate would feature modern residential areas, hotels, tourism, entertainment and other 21st century and beyond facilities which will be found in the developed world.

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“The estate is also planned as a self-sustaining mini city where occupants can live, work and play and enjoy all the amenities and services essential for safe and comfortable modern living; some of the state- of- art include 24 hours dedicated electricity and water, Nursery and Primary school as well as Crèche, clinic, pharmacy, fire department, musical water fountain, international 5-Star hotel among others”, he said.
He disclosed that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed with Highland Energy Solution Services Limited for the provision of a 2 MW Power Plant in the estate for 24 hours.


Akinpelu Shogunke, managing director of HighLand Energy Solution Services Limited (HESSL), managers of the project, said the initiative for the power project was taken by the NPDC-SMPCS. He said the power company and consortium partners which include VTT LNG ( West Africa ) Limited, the fuel supplier and gas aggregator is partnering NPDC-SMPCS and others to provide a sustainable electrical energy supply strategy implementing a Captive Independent Electrical Power Concession Infrastructure Scheme at the site.


He said the estimated $3.5 million power plant become necessary following the perennial epileptic power supply in the state and Nigeria in general with a view to ensuring that a clean and stable supply of electricity is available on a 24-hour basis weekly.
He added that in the Estate, HESSL Consortium shall generate and distribute electric power within the estate to serve all the industries, commercial businesses, recreation centres, educational centres and residents in the estate.
“Excess energy generated in the estate shall be made available, particularly to the existing satellite towns and communities that would develop around the estate, through the national electric grid to which the estate grid shall be connected.
“This connection to the PHCN grid may also serve as a backup for electricity generated within the estate as and when required; to this end HESSL Consortium shall establish a sound working relationship with PHCN or its approved representative to achieve this purpose”, he stated.

Source: Idris Umar Momoh Benin

HUD continues to report increases in homelessness

Like last year, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reported yet another annual increase in homelessness.

“Our state and local partners are increasingly focused on finding lasting solutions to homelessness even as they struggle against the headwinds of rising rents,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said. “Much progress is being made and much work remains to be done but I have great hope that communities all across our nation are intent on preventing and ending homelessness.”

 

However, even this is a slowdown from previous years. Last year, veteran homelessness increased for the first time in seven years. And the chart below, released by HUD earlier this year, shows even this year’s decrease is down significantly from previous years.

Homelessness

(Source: HUD)

And this slowdown comes despite HUD’s multiple funding efforts for homelessness. Some of those efforts include when HUD announced it was awarding $2 billion to homeless assistance programs, when HUD and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs gave $43 million to find homes for homeless veterans and when HUD granted $43 million to help end youth homelessness.

Back in 2017, former HUD Secretary Julián Castro said in an exclusive interview with HousingWire that President Donald Trump’s budget lacked vision and that it would create more homeless veterans.

As the chart above shows, homeless veterans did increase in 2017. However, they decreased again in 2018. And Trump’s 2019 budget proposal would boost HUD’s funding by 1% from the previous cuts he made to the department. When Trump first took office, he cut HUD’s budget by 13.2%.

HUD also pointed out that Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate, along with western wildfires and other storms and events, caused an increase of 4,000 people living in emergency shelters.

While 31 states and the District of Columbia reported a decrease in homelessness in 2018, 19 states offset this and reported increases.

“Communities across the country are getting better and better at making sure that people exit homelessness quickly through Housing First approaches,” said Matthew Doherty, U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness executive director. “We know, however, that a lack of housing that people can afford is the fundamental obstacle to making further progress in many communities.”

The chart below shows the estimate of people experiencing homelessness from 2007 to 2018.

 

Homelessness

(Source: HUD)

While most of the homeless population lives in shelters, the chart shows 194,467 were unsheltered.

Source: Kelsey Ramírez

Australian Opposition leader unveils $6.6bn affordable housing plan

​Bill Shorten used his opening address to Labor’s national conference to unveil new subsidies to promote more affordable housing at a cost of $6.6bn over a decade.

Shorten took the opportunity of his opening pitch to the delegates and onlookers gathered in Adelaide for the three-day event to commit to a target of 20,000 houses built in the first term of a Labor government.

The policy,offers 15-year subsidies of $8,500 a year to investors who build new houses, with the taxpayer support conditional on the dwellings being rented to eligible tenants at 20% below market rent.

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Shorten planned to tell conference delegates Labor’s mission between now and the next federal election is not only to secure government, but also “rebuild trust in our democracy” and “restore meaning to the fair go”.

“We must revitalise around the nation what we in this hall hold as an article of faith: the idea that government has the power to bring meaningful progress into people’s lives,” the Labor leader told delegate.

“Rental affordability is a national challenge and it demands national leadership. Building more affordable housing is infrastructure policy. It is cities policy. It is jobs and productivity policy. And it is population policy”.

Shorten says the policy will provide certainty for property investors to build new dwellings knowing that subsidies are available for a decade. The program builds on the existing national rental affordability scheme.

The Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute estimates there is currently a shortfall of more than 525,000 affordable rental properties in Australia.

The Labor leader says access to housing stands as one of the biggest challenges in addressing intergenerational inequality. “There is a persistent and increasing wealth gap which is locking Australians out of the housing market”.

But there have been several policy flash point into the event including a debate about wheter to commit to an increase in the Newstart payment,and an argument over environmental regulations.

A draft national platform signed off by the ALP national executive in October committed Labor to significant legal reforms as well as an independent national Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and a national environment commission that would act as an environmental watchdog – but the shadow environment minister, Tony Burke, is resisting some of those changes.

There has been intensive work to iron out contested positions on refugee policy, trade and workplace relations reform, and well as contentious foreign policy issues, like the recognition of Palestinian statehood. The factional caucuses met in Adelaide on Saturday afternoon in advance of Sunday morning’s kick off.

The Labor leadership has been negotiating with the trade union leadership for months on a range of policies that would strengthen the current regulatory framework, with that dialogue an effort to minimise public confrontation in Adelaide.

The Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union, the most influential union on Labor’s left, has signalled it will push to strengthen the party’s stance on labour relations. Ahead of the conference, the CFMMEU national secretary Michael O’Connor said: “Record low wage growth and inequality are hurting our economy and our society.”

“Wages will only improve if we improve the voice and bargaining power of workers through strengthening trade unions and increasing trade union membership.”

It also looks likely there will be a ballot of the conference for positions on the party’s national executive – which is unusual.

Johannesburg Partners Private Firms For Affordable Housing Projects

Johannesburg has identified 84 buildings in and around the inner city for development by private-sector companies into housing for 300 000 people in the city who do not have housing.

City of Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba emphasises that the city needed this type of partnership with the private sector to provide affordable housing because it cannot solve the problem by itself.

He stresses that the city’s work to reduce lawlessness and improve the inner city has supported its project to identify, expropriate where necessary, and redevelop or repurpose buildings to provide safe and affordable housing.

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Johannesburg Property Company (JPC) CEO Helen Botes highlights that the city will have a further 86 buildings that it will release by March 2019, if the JPC is granted approval by the city council. These buildings are mainly in the Orange Grove areas.

The city will release more than 100 buildings over the next three years and is also looking at creating similar housing development opportunities in the areas of Roodepoort and Randburg and along Louis Botha avenue, confirms Mashaba.

The city will be responsible for providing the bulk infrastructure connections for the buildings, but imposes certain criteria on bidders for the buildings, including technical competence and capacity, black ownership and empowerment, that they densify the city and create jobs and provide for the training of artisans during construction.

This is done to ensure that the city has the necessary artisans in the next ten to fifteen years to maintain the buildings. Bidders could also consider buying the buildings or securing them on long-term leases, according to their needs, he explains.

“The city cannot build sufficient houses to overcome the challenge of providing affordable housing for the people who work and live in it. “We need to approach the private sector as partners to secure ideas for the development and use of these buildings to provide affordable housing. We can create the opportunities by proposing these buildings.”

Additionally, Mashaba highlights the need to develop student accommodation precincts and safe, affordable student accommodation for the 80 000 students in the city.The demand for housing and student accommodation is high, he adds.

Mashaba adds that the city has to deal with the housing issue as a priority and small businesses aiming to invest in buildings are better served forming joint ventures with other companies. The city has to give priority to those offers that are ready to proceed, he adds.

Further, he says that they are relying on the private sector to come up with ideas, such as energy management or renewable energy systems, as part of their proposals and factored into their financial calculations.

However, Mashaba maintains that the city aims to support the creation of as many housing units as possible to densify the city and that bulk infrastructure would be necessary to power these buildings.

“We must focus on creating an enabling environment for the private sector. We have, thus, capacitated the teams dealing with regulatory approvals and hired additional people into the planning department to fast-track the processes.”

It has identified close to 500 buildings in the inner city that it wants to turn around over the long term. It has also ensured that inner-city projects are given preference in the planning and approval processes.

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