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How Land Use Act’s Frustrating Prospective Home Owners

Land plays a pivotal role in housing development with its two major roles. One of that role is that you must secure piece of land and two it is on land that you build your house. So any rule that is made to hold land or to make land not available to those who need them at any point in time will eventually effect the number of housing and the extent of deficits that we have to battle with.

Prior to establishment of Land Use Act, people use land at will with no regulations on the side of government. But with the advent of the Act, it has been complaint upon complaint with may clamouring for its abrogation. Land Use Act, though helps to check use of land has become a clog in the process of acquiring land. It is the Land Use Act that gave birth to the Land Use Charge of 2018.

Today, if you buy land in Nigeria and you do not have the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) from the government, it is not yours, all you have is a lease, that is, you never have a freehold. You cannot even have access to any loan or do anything tangible if you do not have fund of your own, not even the National Housing Fund (NHF) which was set up by the government to render such assistance. Yet the Certificate of Occupancy is even more difficult than getting the land itself.

All efforts by some State Governments especially the Lagos State government to ease the procedure and collection have been described as mere gimmicks. We have heard series of cases where Governors wield their powers to revoke legally acquired rights of occupancy in the interest of the public, whereas it was obvious that they were done on political reasons especially against oppositions. The former President of the federation who was the author of the Act when it was promulgated during his first military administration had to reassure Nigerians on September 26, 2001 in Abuja that “no government owns land” and that “land belongs to the people”. This statement was made when he was condemning the excesses of the Governors. As stated above, since it is a known philosophy that laws are made by men for men and are operated, implemented and enforced by human beings through various legal institutions, our concern is how the Act has helped in the housing scheme.

The law in Lagos State is said to consolidate all property and land based charges in Lagos and makes provisions for levying and collecting land use charge in respect of property in Lagos State. The law came to force on February 8, 2018, and it repealed the 2001 version. The land use charge is a form of property tax and all the property or owners of property in Lagos are expected to pay it, apart from the property or owners that are exempted. Although, not all states in the federation adopted the Lagos style, the property that are exempted are: (i) properties belonging to religious organization and used exclusively as a place of worship or religious education; this is despite calls from different quarters that religious organizations should start paying taxes. (ii) Property used as public cemeteries and burial grounds; (iii) Property used as registered educational institutions; (iv) Property used for public or private libraries; (v) Property used as palaces of recognized Obas and Chiefs; and (vi) Property specifically exempted by the Governor of Lagos State.

However, under the old Land Use Charge Law of 2001, the person liable to pay Land Use Charge was the owner of the property. This means that occupiers of the property such as lessors, sub-lessors, lessees, tenants, licensees and trespassers are not liable to pay. This position has changed under the Land Use Charge of 2018 where liability to pay may exclusively or jointly fall on the owner on the one hand and occupiers such as lessees, tenants or trespassers on the other hand, depending on a given situation.

So, understanding how the law as it relates to supply of housing in the country helps those who wants to build and their own houses, it could be understood that land use act has not helped in the availability of housing in the country. Laws in Nigeria are therefore enforced variously by the enforcement agencies. In order to make housing both available and affordable, government should remove everything that frightens builders and those aspiring to build their own houses. This include amending the land use act to make land accessible to the public or abrogate it entirely. The public have been complaining about the clog of land use act to solving the problem of housing.

Because of these and so many complaints from the public, the main problems of Land Use Act in Nigeria remains the same. It made land become super expensive. In the past, you could just purchase a piece of land from a community or individual and register it in the Land Registry.

After that, you go and  get the bankable document almost in no time for the adequate price. Today, the process is changed. If you want a piece of land, you will need to apply for the local government official and pay the fee for the land. After that, you will get the plan with unused lands on the map and get your piece. When you get your piece of the land, you acquire the Certificate of Occupancy.

That is how you become a rightful owner of the lands. Nonetheless, to get the C of O from government authorities has become an Herculean task that discourages the people from pursuing their land titles. So, if government is serious in making housing available to the people and reducing the yearly housing deficits, the first action will be directed at making land available and affordable.

Otherwise, the so much hulahula and hullabaloo for the provision of housing will make no meaning. The act has tied the operators in the built environment and the public such that repealing it or amending it to give it a human face will go a long way in reducing housing deficits in the country. The implication of this act bothers only the landowners. The landowners should acquire a Certificate of Occupancy.

Without this certificate, you cannot be named a legal owner of the land. Therefore, all the rights that you have for this land is a lease. What does it mean for you? It means that the government may take your land without any compensation.

The Land Use Act remains as the most controversial legislation act in Nigeria. A lot of stakeholders still describe this act as the one that cripples the economy of the entire nation. A lot of experts may suggest that the act should be overviewed or reviewed. Moreover, this act should be removed from the Constitution.

This is most imminent considering the fact that RUGA and similar issues are trying to set the country ablaze. If this act stays within the measures of the constitution and without any reviewing, then Nigerians should expect no growth in terms of the real estate industry. How can you create a strong and stable growth of anything if the land is under the control of the state governors?

The Constitutional requirements are the main reason why this act failed. It is necessary to amend the act to change the situation for the better. The previous presidents, like GoodLuck Jonathan and Umaru Musa Yar’ Dua tried to make some changes to the act but their efforts did not climax.

Source: sunnewsonline

Birmingham’s Temporary Accommodation Tower

At 20 storeys tall, Barry Jackson Tower is clearly visible from Birmingham’s infamous Spaghetti Junction just over a mile away.

One Birmingham City Council employee tells Inside Housing how her colleagues are “proud” when they turn off the M6 to make their way into the city and catch a glimpse of the newly refurbished building in Aston, glistening a pristine white in the morning sunshine. That pride comes from what the council has done here.

An unloved 1960s tower block, incongruously dumped among the low-rise estates of the surrounding area, Barry Jackson Tower was a hive for anti-social behaviour and had been scheduled for demolition.

That changed two years ago, when the council hit on the idea of using some of its obsolete buildings as temporary accommodation to alleviate a growing homelessness crisis. In June this year, the first families began moving into the tower’s 160 ‘units’ (the council prefers that word to ‘flats’ when describing temporary accommodation). Meanwhile, to the south of the city centre in Highgate, others were starting to occupy the 55 units at Magnolia House, a former care home.

Inside Housing is being shown around the recently reopened facility during a sweltering hot lunchtime in July by Sharon Thompson, Birmingham’s cabinet member for homes and neighbourhoods and previously its advisor on homelessness. Having been a homeless teen in the city herself, Ms Thompson has a personal incentive to find solutions to what has become an epidemic.

“I think it’s a statement,” she says as we talk in a communal area on the second floor. “In that it’s driving down the use of bed and breakfast [(B&B) accommodation], then, yeah, it’s a huge statement.”

The use of B&Bs as a short-term salve for homeless families has been on the rise in Birmingham. A year ago, according to council data, there were 700 families staying in B&Bs across the city. Today, partly thanks to the opening of Barry Jackson Tower and Magnolia House, that number is below 400.

Ms Thompson says that reducing the reliance on B&Bs is a big motivational factor, not just because it is more expensive for the council to pay for rooms in them than in their own managed accommodation, but also because of the effects it has on people trying to find a permanent home.

“A big thing was when people said they couldn’t bring food in [to B&Bs],” she elaborates. “These things make a huge difference to people.”

In contrast, there is a shared kitchen – as well as a shared bathroom – for every two units in Barry Jackson Tower, and an individual fridge for each family. “This shows them that, as a council, we value you as individuals and we will support you in the meantime to get you into permanent accommodation,” adds Ms Thompson.

But the use of B&Bs is just one symptom of a crisis that has engulfed all of the UK’s major cities

this decade, with Birmingham no exception. Street homelessness in the city increased by 53% in the past year and by 588% since 2012.

The last official count in 2018 revealed that 91 people were sleeping rough; in the previous year the count was 57. Meanwhile, the council is handling 600 homelessness applications each month. With 12,900 households already on the housing waiting list and 2,900 in temporary accommodation of one sort or another, it is easy to understand the scale of the challenge.

The repurposing of the two buildings is part of a preventative strategy that launched in 2017, in response to the passing of the government’s Homelessness Reduction Act, legislation that places the onus on councils to prevent homelessness, rather than take action only once someone becomes homeless.

While Ms Thompson says that Birmingham’s “biggest focus has been getting families out of bed and breakfast”, the strategy – which she herself drew up during her stint as the council’s homelessness advisor – goes further than that.”

“The Homelessness Reduction Act meant we had to change our systems anyway, so we looked at the whole thing together,” Ms Thompson continues. “Barry Jackson and Magnolia are just two of the things that came out of it.”

 

 

She says that the strategy was aimed at “looking at it [homelessness] in a whole system way”, adding that it is being treated as a “city-wide approach, not a council-only approach”.

In practical terms, this approach resulted in the formation of the Birmingham Homelessness Partnership Board, comprising individuals from 30 organisations including charities, private landlords and public sector bodies. The board reviews the council’s progress against the aims of the its homelessness prevention strategy on an annual basis.

The strategy itself has five strands: universal prevention, targeted prevention, crisis prevention and relief, homeless recovery, and sustainable housing. And it appears to be bearing fruit: of the 300 homelessness cases each month that the council identifies as ‘preventable’, 44% are in secure, permanent accommodation six months later.

Ms Thompson explains how the conversion of Barry Jackson Tower and Magnolia House “sits in between” the crisis management and prevention parts of the strategy. That is because besides providing the physical space for families, the two buildings also provide what she calls “wrap-around services” to try and prevent repeat homelessness and put families staying there on the path to getting a home of their own.

“What we don’t want is a cycle of repeat homelessness,” confirms Andy Perry, senior service manager in the council’s temporary accommodation team, which is responsible for the two buildings as well as the four other facilities across the city. “We want people to move on to permanent accommodation.”

There are around 25 council staff working in Barry Jackson Tower, and another nine in Magnolia House, although the level of staffing is constantly assessed. Many of these are in place to provide the kind of services Ms Thompson is talking about. There is, for example, a full-time finance officer on site to help households that might be struggling to get on to Birmingham’s housing register because they are in debt.

 

Mr Perry says that the officer’s appointments diary is full every week. “There’s a financial angle to lots of people who end up in these circumstances,” he explains.

Haja Obayd and her six children are among the families for whom money was a cause of their homelessness. They were renting privately until they started falling behind on their rent payments and were evicted.

“We were living in hotels and Travelodges for a couple of months,” her 18-year-old daughter Hana Abdul Moore tells Inside Housing. “It’s better here. In the hotels, we didn’t have kitchens and we had to eat out all the time. It’s more like home here.”

Part of that feeling comes from the staff and services that are on offer. Many of the reception and security staff speak Arabic, which Ms Abdul Moore says helps her mother, who sometimes struggles with her English, to feel more at ease. Meanwhile, they are being helped in their application for a permanent home.

In Magnolia House, Zartaisha Rashid has been living in a ground-floor room with a bunk bed alongside her three-year-old son, Hussain Ali, since June. They have been homeless since they obtained a visa 18 months ago.

Ms Rashid tells Inside Housing that she preferred the privacy of her previous temporary accommodation, which she shared with just two other women, but she acknowledges the importance of the additional services she can now access.

“Everyone is friendly and the staff are really nice,” she says. “If you need any help, they are here for you. We are homeless and whatever the council can do, they are doing it for us.”

Financial difficulty has been identified as one of the leading causes of homelessness in Birmingham, but the council’s strategy is also specifically targeting another: domestic violence.

Women’s Aid, a charity that works with domestic violence victims, is one of the 30 organisations with a place on the Homelessness Partnership Board. In March, as part of the over-arching homelessness strategy, the council helped establish a domestic abuse hub, where victims at risk of homelessness can access advice and support.

“We have a system that looks at their needs and their risks [so] we can get the wrap-around support in place,” explains Maureen Connolly, chief executive at Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid. She says the work with the partnership board has helped start “conversations about new ways of doing things”.

 

Women’s Aid has a worker in Barry Jackson Tower but Ms Connolly would, on balance, rather victims stay in their own home instead of moving to temporary accommodation whenever possible. “By the time they get here, they are down the road of living with it for a long time,” she elaborates.

It is an illustration of how many intersectional challenges a city like Birmingham has when it comes to homelessness – and how far it still has to go. Nevertheless, the refurbishment of buildings on such a large scale is a clear sign of intent.

The cost of renovating Barry Jackson Tower was £11m, while Magnolia House came in at around £5m. Mr Perry says that Barry Jackson Tower will be “cost neutral” at a 95% occupancy rate. Since it opened at the start of the summer, it has had a 98% occupancy rate. When Inside Housing visits, only one unit is empty, and even that is due to be filled the following day.

There is no time limit for how long people can stay in either of the buildings, with the only restriction being that single men cannot live in any of the units.

“Some families need a few days; some may need two or three months,” adds Mr Perry. “We don’t set timescales for them. You make the call at the right time.”

Timing is also important when it comes to broadening what is still very much a pilot approach.

“What we wanted to do is to make sure to get things right here before rolling it out,” confirms Mr Perry. “What we don’t want is to think we know best and then mess things up. We want to make sure we make the right impact.”

Source:  insidehousing

Housing Crisis Grips Ireland a Decade After Property Bubble Burst

DUBLIN — For generations, the Irish took for granted that affordable, plentiful housing was the bedrock of their economic security and government policy. Not long ago, Ireland had one of the world’s highest rates of homeownership.

The last several years have torn up those assumptions, leaving the country in the grip of a worsening housing crisis. Homeownership has dropped, evictions and homelessness have climbed sharply, surging demand for rental units has led to a shortage, and soaring rents are fodder for daily conversation, political campaigns and street protests.

In the last few years, Dublin has become one of the world’s 10 most expensive places to rent, ahead of cities like Tokyo, Sydney and Singapore. Deutsche Bank reported in May that typical rent for a midrange, two-bedroom apartment in Dublin was $2,018 a month, 23 percent more than in 2014 — the biggest increase of any city in the top tier.

“Almost everybody I know who is renting has been given notice to quit at some point. It happens so often it’s scary,” said Carly Bailey, who had been homeless twice before she was elected to Dublin City Council this year. “I don’t know where to put my daughter down for school. People like us just don’t know where we are going to be in a few months’ time.”

“The crisis has been particularly severe for young adults who see little choice but to spend much of their incomes on rent, and little prospect of being able to save and buy later on.

“You have a generation being locked out of the Irish social contract,” said Rory Hearne, a lecturer in the sociology of housing at Maynooth University. “A lot of young people are now realizing they will never own their own home, and that is a particularly terrible outlook when you live in a country where a house is usually your main asset for retirement.”

The chief executive of Ires Reit, Ireland’s largest private landlord, said in late 2016, “We’ve never seen rental increases like this in any jurisdiction” and “I truly feel badly for the Irish people.” Over the next two years, rents nationwide rose about 14 percent, the government reported.

The Irish division of Savills, an international property company, predicts that rents will increase an additional 17 percent over the next three years.

“The social and political risks are very high,” said Orla Hegarty, a professor of architecture at University College Dublin. “The high cost of housing is now a barrier to inward investment, to emigrants returning with skills, to people hoping to start families and who want to move. We’ll see that soon in lost growth and a falling birthrate.”

For those struggling to pay rents or unable to find homes, the risk is not in the future, but now.

After nine years renting a house in northern County Dublin, Sabrina Farrell and her three children, aged 4 to 16, were evicted in April when their landlord decided to sell. Unable to find a home they could afford, even with public rent assistance, they now share a single hotel room paid for by the local government, with no place to cook or play.

“The kids are living off McDonald’s,” Ms. Farrell said. “A couple of weeks ago, my older boy started self-harming because of the situation we are in.” “I have to be strong for them, and try my best,” she said, “but when you see your children suffering, it’s hard to cope. I started having panic attacks. I’m on medication now.”

Homelessness in Ireland has nearly quadrupled in the last five years, according to the government. Official figures for May showed 10,253 homeless people, including 1,700 families with 3,749 children. Many more, who emigrate or move in with parents or friends, go uncounted.

 

Even those who can afford their rents find that they have little security in a rising market. Leases can be for as little as six months, and Irish law allows landlords to evict tenants if they want to sell the property, renovate it or move in a family member.

Much of the anger in Ireland has focused on foreign-owned companies like Ires Reit, whose largest shareholder is a Canadian company, or Kennedy Wilson, a California firm, that have bought or built thousands of units in a few years and are expanding their holdings, while paying little or nothing in Irish taxes.

Such companies, often backed by foreign banks, pension funds and real estate companies, have been dubbed “cuckoo funds,” for birds that lay eggs in the nests of other species and crowd out their young. But they own fewer than 5 percent of the rental homes in the country, concentrated at the high end of the market.

Homeownership was long something of a national obsession in Ireland, where memories run deep of 19th-century tenants suffering at the hands of landlords, many of them British. After the country gained independence in the 1920s, its government went on a building campaign, and later sold many publicly-owned homes to their renters.

But by the last decade, Ireland, like the United States, had a property bubble built on debt, fueled by reckless lending and tax incentives. When the bubble burst in 2008, starting a deep recession, real estate prices plunged, people defaulted on loans, construction came to a halt and Irish banks, deeply indebted to foreign banks, flirted with insolvency.

Homeownership fell from about 80 percent of households to fewer than 70 percent — still ahead of peers like Britain, France and Germany, but lower than it had been in Ireland in four decades.

Source: nytimes

Multi-Level Action to Bridge the Gap in Affordable Housing

Highlights from the International Social Housing Festival high-level policy roundtable

Housing Europe joined forces with the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the European Committee of the Regions and the Metropolitan Region of Lyon for a high-level Roundtable discussion as part of the 2nd International Social Housing Festival.

Building on the efforts of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe which endorsed in 2015 the Geneva UN Charter on Sustainable Housing, the Action Plan of the Housing Partnership under the Urban Agenda for the European Union, the ‘State of Housing in the EU’ Report, Housing Europe and the CoR own-initiative report ‘Towards a European Agenda on Housing’ the event brought together senior officials responsible for housing and urban affairs, representatives of local authorities and housing providers, experts and representatives of international organisations to discuss and exchange experiences on how to move forward in bridging the gap in affordable housing.

In reaction to this shift at EU level and to take stock of the growing amount of evidence and reports from the Eurostat, OECD & The World Bank, Housing Europe has joined with the UNECE Housing and Land Management Committee to launch an Affordability Outlook to run for one year. As well as taking stock of growing global consensus on the need for a change in direction on housing, the Outlook will work to channel the expertise and experience on housing systems, to guide on the best ways the European Commission can indeed ensure functioning housing markets and adequate provision of social housing.

Housing Europe President, Cédric van Styvendael opened the event calling for a new alliance at all political levels in support of affordable housing along the lines of the ‘Lyon Commitment’, inviting all 250 participants to sign it.

Elena Szolgayova, Chair of UNECE Committee on Urban Development, Housing and Land Management, UNECE and Director General, Ministry of Transport and Construction of Slovakiapresented the new global policy context around housing including the SDGs, the Urban Agenda for the EU and the UNECE Charter of Sustainable Housing. Elena stressed the importance of connecting all these pieces of the puzzle to effectively address the housing challenge.

Christophe Lalande, Leader of the Housing Unit at the Housing and Slum Upgrading Branch of UN Habitat underlined that the starting point for tackling the housing crisis must be realising & protecting the right to housing.

Hicham Imane, Member of the European Committee of the Regions and Rapporteur of the CoR Opinion ‘Towards a European Agenda for Housing’ said that it is crucial in the next legislative term to put an Action Plan for Affordable Housing, as presented by the S & D Candidate for the Commission Presidency, Frans Timmermans at the core of the EU work.

The first session was dedicated to experiences in providing affordable housing with a low environmental impact, discussing interlinkages between housing affordability and environmental sustainability.

Maja-Marija Nahod, Assistant Minister, Ministry of Construction and Physical Planning of Croatia showcased a really diverse set of actions with some rather encouraging results in the country’s building stock. EurActiv wrote about the Energy Renovation programmes of the Croatian government that ‘they can teach us as much as their football’.

Stimulating investment in new construction, safeguarding affordability and reducing the construction costs were the main pillars of Germany’s strategy for housing en route to its EU Presidency as presented by Jens Schumacher of the German Permanent Representation in Brussels.

In the discussion that followed, Mårten Lilja, Vice-Chairman of Rijkbyggen in Sweden and Member of the Housing Europe Boardstressed that the next step for the sector, moving forward from Zero Emission Buildings towards Zero Emission Neighborhoods requires new ways of cooperation between actors in neighborhoods.

Marnix Norder, Chairman of Aedes- the Federation of Dutch Social Housing Associations- and a Member of the Housing Europe Boardgave a brief overview of the Dutch sector’s strategy to be carbon neutral by 2050 and discussed the needs in terms of policy at international level to achieve a fair, green energy transition. “Is it more important to have a circulair or smart building or to reduce CO2 emissions? We have to chose and we, as Aedes, chose to focus on CO2 emissions.”, said Mr. Norder.

Reinhard Six, Senior Engineer at the Energy Efficiency Division of the European Investment Bank gave a number of examples of projects the Bank has supported in the wider affordable housing sector, including Retrofitted housing with additional new construction including space for community/social activities in Hamburg and the thermal rehabilitation of 270 buildings in Romania in Bucharest S6 district. He also explained the added value of the ELENA (European Local Energy Assistance) in Project development support for energy efficiency in buildings. You may read here the successful case of our Flemish member, VVH with their Aster project.

 

The afternoon session focused on ‘Housing as a Service in Welfare 2.0’ with representatives from Spain, the Czech Republic and Albania sharing their quite different national experiences.

Doris Andoni, Director of Housing Policy at the Ministry of Finance and Economy of Albania took participants to a journey through the different stages of the country’s housing policy, providing insights related to the characteristics of the housing stock, the demographic dynamics and the situation in the free market. Albania is now trying to fill the affordability gap through housing programs that address different housing situations and income levels ranging from temporary shelters for homeless and emergent cases, to specialized houses for elderly, differently able people, victims of domestic violence, children that need a special protection, etc. and from improvement of existing houses for poor and vulnerable groups to Social or Public Housing.

Daniela Grabmüllerová, Director of International Relations Department at the Ministry of Regional Development in the Czech Republic showcased the key success factors in the country’s housing policy, including cooperation of governments at all levels, having rental housing as a key tool at supply side of the housing market, keeping a special focus on socially disadvantaged groups while looking for new models – e.g. Community housing, social mix in residential buildings.

Javier Martin, Secretary General Director for Architecture, Housing and Urban Policy at the Spanish Ministry of Public Works, Transport and Housing gave an overview of their Action Plan to increase the supply of affordable housing for rent, to give response to the growing demand in some territorial areas using tools such as Public-Private Partnerships, State Aids more focused in target households, reforming the regulation on contracts and reinforcing the Housing and Land Observatory. Mr. Martin concluded saying that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has been the driving force behind the Spanish Urban Agenda.

In the discussion that followed, Willem Adema of the Labour and Social Affairs Unit of the OECD said that support to home owners still prevails over support to (social) tenants across OECD countries, highlighting the need for more balanced policy approach.

Jaana Närö, Chairperson of KOVA, the Finnish Social Housing Federation- a member of Housing Europe- made it clear that in her view one needs to address the housing question before dealing with any other social issue. This is also the secret behind the Finnish success story, the stability of housing solutions. Jaana invited everyone to Helsinki in 2021 to draw inspiration during the 3rd International Social Housing Festival. You may already get a taste watching this video.

Housing Europe Board Member and Chair of our Flemish member, VVH, Bjorn Mallants underlined that the social housing sector must be careful not to get drawn into an overly financial view of its value. Need to put people at the centre and work in partnership for them, giving example of work with the homeless sector.

In the closing session, Kerstin Jorna, Deputy Director General, of the European Commission Directorate General for Financial Affairs (ECFIN) started by saying that housing is key for the overall wellbeing and this is why the Commission has put it high on the European Pillar of Social Rights. Acknowledging that Member States and local authorities cannot solve the housing crisis alone, Mrs. Jorna shared that the Commission will be taking more initiatives in the near future, announcing the establishment of an interservice group dealing with housing that will connect all policies on housing within the European Commission.

Last but not least, Michaela Kauer from the City of Vienna delivered a quick overview of the EU Urban Agenda Housing Partnership Action Plan sharing also her experience as Co-Coordinator.

In her sum-up Sorcha Edwards, Housing Europe’s Secretary General welcomed the positive signals announced by Deputy Director General, of the European Commission Directorate General for Financial Affairs and referring also back to the recent Summit of EU Member States held in Sibiu, Romania where the Commission’s contribution to the summit states ‘We need to support access to quality, energy-efficient affordable housing for all in Europe, supporting Member States to ensure functioning housing markets and adequate provision of social housing.’ (Source: European Commission (2019), Europe in May 2019:  Preparing for a more united, stronger and more democratic Union in an increasingly uncertain world.

In reaction to this shift at EU level and to take stock of the growing amount of evidence and reports from the Eurostat, OECD & The World Bank, Housing Europe has joined with the UNECE Housing and Land Management Committee to launch an Affordability Outlook to run for one year. As well as taking stock of growing global consensus on the need for a change in direction on housing, the Outlook will work to channel the expertise and experience on housing systems, to guide on the best ways the European Commission can indeed ensure functioning housing markets and adequate provision of social housing. The Outlook will be co-chaired by David Orr and Elena Szolgayova.

Source: housingeurope

Britain’s Housing Market Needs a Rebuild

Report a mispronounced word The FT’s report on the Taylor Wimpey chief executive’s view of the UK’s Help to Buy scheme records just one more criticism of a scheme that would be better described as “help to profit” . The chief impact has been to inject billions into the bottom line of mass housebuilders.

That this money might have been better spent elsewhere is now a statement of the obvious. Successive governments’ housing policies have been disastrous, failing to provide the genuinely affordable, well-built, appropriately located, secure homes that so many desperately need and want.

It is time that we rethought Britain’s whole approach to housing. A place to live is a human right, like clean air and water. Local governments should play a major role in guaranteeing that, with their potential access to land, ability to borrow long term and cheaply, and democratic accountability.

The homes need to be built to the highest standards of energy efficiency, for the benefit of both the residents and the planet in this age of climate emergency.

And households need secure homes, ones in which they can become part of the local community, give their children steady progress through schooling, where older citizens can build friendships that combat loneliness. We are seeing slow changes, with political pressure forcing modest increases in renters’ rights, taxation changes limiting landlords’ profits and councils allowed to borrow for building homes.

This all needs to move much faster. This is crucial for people and communities, but also our economy. Capital needs to go into productive assets, into an economy reshaped by the green new deal, rather than ever-rising house prices.

Source: ft

Smart Cities Still Need a Human Touch

This is a tale of two cities — Toronto and Barcelona — that may hold important lessons for others around the world. Both have big ambitions to change the way they operate but reflect very different visions of how smart cities should be run.

In Toronto, citizens have just submitted their initial reactions to Sidewalk Labs’ Master Innovation and Development Plan to develop a 12-acre waterfront district known as Quayside. This offshoot of Google promises to use innovative design and the latest digital technologies to create a radically new kind of urban community that it hopes to replicate elsewhere.

Born in the realm of bits, Google has been taking an increasing interest in the world of atoms. It recently announced a separate $1bn contribution to help develop 20,000 new homes in Silicon Valley over the next 10 years. Dan Doctoroff, the former deputy mayor of New York who is now Sidewalk Labs’ chief executive, says: “Our mission is to deliver dramatic improvements in urban life.”

In Toronto, the focus is on creating jobs, building cheaper housing and using technology to develop the first “climate positive” urban community in North America. The mass adoption of connected devices and sensors and the introduction of superfast 5G networks, enabling the creation of “digital twins” of real-world infrastructure, have energised technology companies and urban planners.

They believe that real-time data flows can be used to optimise cities’ “central nervous” systems, promising big improvements in transport, services, the environment and land use. Smart cities can be built from the internet up, as they say. Sidewalk promises some imaginative innovations, such as subterranean delivery systems and the extensive use of mass timber, that have won the support of prominent local politicians and business leaders.

But its plans have also triggered a fierce backlash from some academics and activists, who fear that Google may infringe citizens’ data rights and subvert democracy. An unelected private company, they argue, should not usurp the traditional functions of municipal government.

“What Sidewalk has provided is a vision where its own upper-hand in platform control, data governance, intellectual property, procurement and access has at each turn an obvious and legitimate alternative: the city itself,” wrote Ellen Goodman and Julia Powles, professors from Rutgers Law School and the University of Western Australia Law School, respectively

. Barcelona city government is pursuing a different approach, explicitly aiming to assert its citizens’ “digital sovereignty” by emphasising civic participation, social impact and public return. Francesca Bria, Barcelona’s chief technology and digital innovation officer, says her city has inverted the paradigm used by Sidewalk Toronto.

Rather than designing the technological infrastructure first and then figuring out how best to use it, Barcelona is applying existing technologies to solving everyday problems like pollution, affordable housing and transport. Central to Barcelona’s vision is the use of Decidim, an online platform that enables citizens to participate in decision making. Some 40,000 people use this “civic alternative to Facebook”, allowing them to initiate and shape policy.

“We need a new social contract for the digital age,” says Ms Bria. As part of this deal, the city’s data should belong to the citizens themselves. By opening up data sets in a secure way, Barcelona aims to stimulate local businesses and civic initiatives. “We regard data as a utility like water, electricity or roads,” Ms Bria says.

How the Toronto and Barcelona experiments fare over the next few years will inform policymakers around the world as rapid urbanisation emerges as one of the biggest policy challenges of our time. The number of people living in cities has exploded over the past few decades, from 751m in 1950 to 4.2bn today.

The UN is forecasting it will hit 6.7bn by 2050. There is no doubt that the latest technologies can offer huge improvements in the way that cities are run. In the cases of Toronto and Barcelona, there is also a big difference between invention and reinvention, between building something afresh and reimagining existing institutions.

But as Mr Doctoroff acknowledges, cities are always going to be immensely complex human organisms to manage, likening the challenge to trying to solve a “50-sided Rubik’s cube”. No matter how good the technology, smart cities will only ever be as clever as the people who design them.

Source: ft

Reasons There’s no More Equity Demand on Housing loans Below N5m

For too long, the demand for equity contribution as a prerequisite for accessing housing loan facility from mortgage and other deposit banks has denied many Nigerians opportunities to own homes, leading to the widening housing demand-supply gap in the country.

But that narrative is changing significantly by reason of one of the recent initiatives by the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), which has scrapped equity contribution on housing loans below N5 million and 10 percent flat rate for housing loans beginning from N5 million to N15 million.

Zero equity on housing loans targeted at federal civil servants means those of them earning low salaries and are subscribers to the National Housing Fund (NHF) can now access N5 million mortgage with which they can start the journey to homeownership without the usual fear and difficulty in repaying the principal and the interest.

“We have removed equity contribution on all loans below N5 million in order to ease access to the National Housing Funds (NHF) in the country,” Ahmed Dangiwa, FMBN’s managing director, explained at an international housing conference in Abuja recently.

Equity contribution is a financial contribution calculated as a percentage of the loan, usually as high as 30 percent, which mortgage lenders demand from borrowers to serve as a hedge against loan default and also as a means of reducing the borrower’s risk exposure.

Mortgage banking operators say equity contribution is fundamental to mortgage lending just as a regular flow of income is. “Equity contribution is fundamental because there are institutional and regulatory developments that are still being expected in the industry.

“There is no dependable data-base of Nigerians yet; the national ID card remains largely unreliable and foreclosure laws are still not strong,” Eniola Bamidele, a mortgage operator, explained to BusinessDay.

This has been a major impediment to owning homes in Nigeria where house prices are extremely high. It is the reason homeownership level in the country is a little above 10 percent as against Singapore’s 65 percent, UK’s 72 percent, and over 80 percent in the US.

Equity contribution also validates a report compiled by Pison Housing Company which says that about 80 percent of the Nigerian population lives in rented accommodation, spending 50 percent of their income on paying house rent.

The Lagos State Home Ownership Mortgage Scheme (LagosHOMS) was an innovative and pace-setting initiative with which the state government under the Babatunde Fashola administration wanted to increase homeownership level in the state through increased access to mortgage.

The laudable scheme could not go far because of the 30 percent equity contribution, which the scheme demanded from the subscribers. The downward review of the equity contribution to as ‘low’ as 5 percent did not strike a loud chord among the state’s civil servants, which the scheme was targeted at.

This, along with other extraneous factors, is reason the state still struggles with enormous housing challenge. Roland Igbinoba, CEO, Pison Housing Company, noted in their revised State of the Lagos Housing Market report that the state has an estimated three million housing deficit and over 60 percent of its residents living in rented accommodation.

There is, however, hope for federal civil servants as Dangiwa disclosed that the apex mortgage bank has, besides the zero equity on housing loans below N5 million, introduced other new initiatives to ease access and improve affordability of houses in the country.

The bank is collaborating with national labour centres for targeted housing delivery under the National Affordable Workers Housing Scheme (NAWHS). It is also collaborating with the Head of Civil Service of the Federation for housing delivery for federal public servants, paramilitary organisations and cooperative societies for the informal sector.

Source: businessdayng

CEO in Focus: Sola David-Borha’s Long Road to Stardom

An outstanding female banker, Sola David-Borha, has grown organically in her career, breaking every barrier to become the chief executive officer (CEO), Africa Regions, the Standard Bank Group.

Until January 2017, Borha was the chief executive officer, Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc – a financial services group with subsidiaries in commercial banking, investment banking, pension and non-pension, asset management and stockbroking.

Born in Accra, Ghana, to a diplomat father, Borha began her career at NAL Merchant Bank (now Sterling Bank), then affiliated with American Express from 1984 to 1989, before joining a boutique investment banking firm, IBTC, which was merged with two commercial banks to become IBTC Chartered in 2005.

Sola undertook her primary and secondary education in Nigeria before completing her studies at University of Ibadan with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics in 1981. She then proceeded to pursue an MBA from the Manchester Business School in 1991. Her executive education includes the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School and the Global CEO Program jointly offered by Wharton, IESE and CEIBS.

In 2007, Standard Bank Group acquired IBTC and became known as Stanbic IBTC Holdings. Borha served as deputy chief executive of the bank (Stanbic IBTC Bank) and head of international banking coverage in Africa (excluding South Africa), becoming chief executive of Stanbic IBTC Bank in 2011 and chief executive of Stanbic IBTC Holdings in 2012.

Her quest for success through hard work is evident in the books of the financial institutions she has chaired so far.

Stanbic IBTC Holdings recorded its most profitable year since inception of the bank in 2017 and 2018. Key extracts of the audited report and accounts of Stanbic IBTC Holdings for the year ended December 31, 2017 showed that gross earnings rose by 36 percent while profit after tax jumped by 70 percent.

Gross earnings rose to N212.4 billion in 2017 as against N156.4 billion in 2016. Profit before tax increased from N37.2 billion to N61.2 billion while profit after tax rose to N48.4 billion from N28.5 billion in 2016.

Total assets increased to N1.386.4 trillion in 2017, a 32 percent growth on N1.053 trillion recorded in 2016. The growth in the balance sheet size was driven mainly by customer deposits, which recorded a growth of 34 percent to N753.6 billion in 2017, from N561.0 billion in 2016.

For the year ended December 31 2018, the financial institution reported net interest income of N78.209 billion as against N83.587 billion in 2017, representing a decline of 6.43 percent. Profit before tax (PBT) of N88.152 billion recorded by the bank in 2018, from N61.166 billion in 2017, represents 44.12 percent increase. The company’s profit for the year 2018 stood at N74.440 billion, as against N48.381 billion in 2017, representing a growth of 53.86 percent. In 2018 financial year. Its basic earnings per share (EPS) stood high at N7.04, from N4.60 in 2017, up by 53.04 percent.

Following the group’s gross earnings increase by 4.67 percent and profit before tax increase by 44.12 percent for the year ended December 31, 2018, the board recommended approval of a final dividend of 150 kobo per share as against 100 kobo per share in 2017.

Standard Bank Group, largest African banking group by assets, with a market cap of approximately R289 billion ($20 billion) as at 31 December 2018, offering a range of banking and related financial services across the continent, dug deep into its Nigerian business in 2018 with the acquisition of additional shares worth N61.3 billion in Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc to increase its majority equity stake in the Nigerian subsidiary to 64.44 percent. This was a year after Borha became the regional CEO of Standard Bank Group.

Checks by BusinessDay showed that the Standard Bank Group also reported profit for the year ended 31 December 2018. The group delivered sustainable earnings growth and improved returns.

Its performance was underpinned by the strength and breadth of client franchise. Group headline earnings grew 6 percent to R27.9 billion and ROE improved to 18.0percent from 17.1percent for the year ended 31 December 2017. The group’s capital position remained robust, with a common equity tier 1 (CET1) ratio of 13.5 percent. Accordingly, a final dividend of 540 cents per share has been declared, resulting in a total dividend of 970 cents per share, an increase of 7 percent on the prior year.

Banking activities headline earnings grew 7 percent to R25.8 billion and ROE improved to 18.8percent from 18.0percent in 2017. Non-interest revenue (NIR) continued to record strong growth, driven by retail banking. Net interest income (NII) growth was dampened, and credit impairment charges were lower as a result of the adoption of a new accounting standard.

The 2018 group results were less impacted by currency movements than in prior years. On a constant currency basis, group headline earnings grew 8 percent. Africa Regions’ contribution to banking headline earnings grew to 31 percent, from 28percent in 2017. The top five contributors to Africa Regions’ headline earnings were Angola, Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria and Uganda.

Borha’s brilliance has earned her several academic recognitions and awards. She currently serves as the vice chairman of the board of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, a position she has held since 2015. She joined the board of IBTC in July 1994. She has been a non-executive director of Coca-Cola HBC AG since June 26, 2015.

Borha served as a director at Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC from 1994 to March 25, 2017. She is a member of the governing council of the Redeemer’s University. She is an Honorary Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).

In 2016, Borha was singled out as the All Africa Business Woman of the Year at the All Africa Business Leaders Awards in Partnership with CNBC Africa.

Former Chairman of Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc, Atedo Peterside, described her as one of the finest bankers of her generation, a consummate professional and an exceptional human being.

Borha is evidence that hard work and consistency pay regardless of gender, background or religion.

Source: businessday

 

National Homelessness Week: Why housing won’t solve everything for people in need

Even though we may be in the final month of winter, it’s important to remember that many people are still sleeping rough.

One in three Australians in need of crisis accommodation were turned away last year, simply because we don’t have the resources and funding.

One woman who’s trying to make a change is Skye Leckie – who slept on the streets for the reality show, Filthy Rich and Homeless.

“There are so many factors that affect how people can end up in financial ruin,” Leckie said.

Social housing waitlist

There are 195,000 people currently on a waitlist for social housing, according to the Council to Homeless Persons – and they believe 500,000 social and affordable rental homes need to become available.

“Property developers, I think, should be creating x amount of apartments or houses in a development that we can give to people for social housing,” Leckie said.

“But not everyone can cope with having shelter – you need wraparound services because there might be mental illnesses or addiction to deal with.

“Everyone that I’ve met or talked to on the street, they’re individuals. They’ve got their own story. You can’t just wave a wand and say, here’s a whole block of apartments, let’s put them all in there and move on – because it’s not as simple as that.”

Source: 7news

20 Cities Where the Most People Own Their Homes

Owning a home is a big part of the American dream for many people. But buying a house is becoming harder, and more than three-quarters of Americans now feel that renting is cheaper, according to a Freddie Mac survey. The homeownership rate nationwide has declined consistently since peaking at 69.1% in 2005 and is now 64.2%.

There are still, however, a number of places where a large share of the population is still willing and able to buy a house. In 20 U.S. cities, over 80% of occupied homes are owned by their residents. These cities, often in the Midwest, tend to have relatively high median household incomes, especially for their state. These places are often within commuting distance of major cities like Chicago or Dallas that tend to have an abundance of high-paying jobs.

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24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey on the percentage of occupied housing units that are occupied by their owners to determine the cities where most occupied homes are owned by an occupant.

Buying a home is the largest and most important financial decision most Americans will likely ever make. Most homeowners take on over $100,000 in mortgage debt, and many take on significantly more. These are the states with the most mortgage debt.

Unsurprisingly, areas with high homeownership rates tend to be wealthy. In nine of the 20 cities where the most people own their homes, the median annual household income is over $100,000. And in each city on the list the median household income is greater than $70,000, well above the U.S. median of $57,652. These are the richest cities in America.

20. Missouri City, Texas

• Homeownership rate: 80.6%

• Median owner-occupied home value: $171,000

• Median household income: $88,896

• Median rooms per housing unit: 6.9 rooms

More than 80% of Missouri City, Texas, homes are owned by their residents, as compared to just 62.0% of Texan homes. Most Missouri City households have an annual income of over $88,000 — well above the U.S. median household income of $57,562. Yet the city’s median home value of $171,000 is lower than the U.S. median home value of $193,500.

19. Sugar Land, Texas

• Homeownership rate: 80.7%

• Median owner-occupied home value: $292,700

• Median household income: $108,994

• Median rooms per housing unit: 7.2 rooms

Sugar Land, Texas, like Missouri City, is a Houston-area city in which more than 80% of occupied homes are owned by their occupants. Area residents are likely better able to pay off their mortgages as indicators point to favorable economic conditions in the area. The annual unemployment rate in Sugar Land of 3.0% is below the national rate, and the median annual household income of $109,000 is nearly double the national median.

18. Fishers, Indiana

• Homeownership rate: 80.8%

• Median owner-occupied home value: $240,100

• Median household income: $101,469

• Median rooms per housing unit: 7.5 rooms

Half the houses in Fishers, Indiana, are worth less than $240,000. A quarter of homes, however, have a value between $300,000 and $500,000, and 8.3% are worth $500,000 or more. Fishers residents tend to have much higher incomes than across Indiana. The city’s $101,469 median annual household income is nearly double the state’s median of $52,182.

17. Bolingbrook, Illinois

• Homeownership rate: 80.9%

• Median owner-occupied home value: $209,200

• Median household income: $83,419

• Median rooms per housing unit: 6.8 rooms

Bolingbrook, Illinois, is a suburb southwest of Chicago. Its residents have access to higher-paying jobs in the major city. Access to high-paying jobs in Chicago help explain Bolingbrook’s median household income of over $83,000 annually, as compared to the state median income of just over $61,000. These higher incomes make it easier to afford homes, which may explain why nearly 81% of Bolingbrook occupied homes are owned by their residents, as compared to Illinois’ home ownership rate of 66.1%.

16. Centennial, Colorado

• Homeownership rate: 81.9%

• Median owner-occupied home value: $367,000

• Median household income: $100,770

• Median rooms per housing unit: 7.6 rooms

Centennial, Colorado, homes are among the largest in the country, with a median of 7.6 rooms per home. The median U.S. home has 5.5 rooms. Residents of Centennial are likely able to buy homes because financial strain is relatively uncommon. Just 4.3% of residents live in poverty, compared to 14.6% nationwide, and the median annual household income is over $100,000.

15. O’Fallon, Missouri

• Homeownership rate: 82.3%

• Median owner-occupied home value: $207,700

• Median household income: $84,580

• Median rooms per housing unit: 6.3 rooms

Residents of O’Fallon tend to be much better off financially than those in Missouri as a whole, allowing them the financial flexibility to purchase their own homes instead of renting. The St. Louis-area city’s median annual household income of $84,580 is $33,000 higher than the state’s median.

14. Bowie, Maryland

• Homeownership rate: 82.6%

• Median owner-occupied home value: $315,900

• Median household income: $108,637

• Median rooms per housing unit: 7.3 rooms

Bowie, Maryland’s proximity to Washington, D.C. provides its residents access to many high-paying government and contracting positions. The city’s annual median household income is $108,637, more than $50,000 higher than the U.S. median. This financial flexibility allows residents to make large purchases, like a home.

13. Yorba Linda, California

• Homeownership rate: 82.6%

• Median owner-occupied home value: $792,700

• Median household income: $123,962

• Median rooms per housing unit: 6.8 rooms

The median home price in Yorba Linda, California, is nearly $800,000 — more than four times the median nationwide. Despite these high prices, homeownership is very high in Yorba Linda — 82.6% of homes in the city are occupied by their owner. Homeownership rates are likely boosted by the area’s relatively high median household income of $123,962, more than double the U.S. median.

12. Tinley Park, Illinois

• Homeownership rate: 83.3%

• Median owner-occupied home value: $223,100

• Median household income: $76,061

• Median rooms per housing unit: 6.1 rooms

Tinley Park is one of three Illinois cities in which more than 80% of occupied homes are lived in by their owner. Each of these cities is relatively close to Chicago and the lucrative jobs available there. At $223,100, the median home in Tinley Park is more expensive than the median home in Illinois, which is $179,700.

11. Bartlett, Tennessee

• Homeownership rate: 84.7%

• Median owner-occupied home value: $172,300

• Median household income: $82,213

• Median rooms per housing unit: 7.1 rooms

Nearly 85% of Bartlett, Tennessee, homes are owned by their residents, one of the highest homeownership rates in the country. In Bartlett, financial struggles are much less common than in Tennessee overall. The poverty rate of 6.7% is a full 10 percentage points lower than the state’s, and the median annual household income of $82,213 is well above Tennessee’s median of $48,700.

10. Livonia, Michigan

• Homeownership rate: 84.8%

• Median owner-occupied home value: $170,500

• Median household income: $74,882

• Median rooms per housing unit: 6.2 rooms

Nearly 85% of occupied homes in Livonia, Michigan, are owned by their residents, one of the highest homeownership rates in the country. Unlike the other cities on this list, very few of the homes in Livonia were built in 2000 or later, at just 4.0%. A very high share of Livonia’s homes, 31.6%, were built in the 1950s.

9. Maple Grove, Minnesota

• Homeownership rate: 84.9%

• Median owner-occupied home value: $266,500

• Median household income: $101,859

• Median rooms per housing unit: 7.3 rooms

Maple Grove, Minnesota, residents are much less likely to experience economic hardships than those in most other cities. The poverty rate is just 4.2%, less than half of the 10.5% poverty rate in Minnesota and the 14.6% poverty rate in the United States. Also, most households in the city earn over $100,000 a year, which likely explains why most houses have over seven rooms. Nationwide, the median home has 5.5 rooms.

8. Estero, Florida

• Homeownership rate: 85.5%

• Median owner-occupied home value: $309,500

• Median household income: $72,999

• Median rooms per housing unit: 5.1 rooms

Estero, Florida, is one of just eight major cities in the United States in which more than 85% of occupied homes are owned by their residents. But unlike the rest of this list, Estero has a lot of vacant homes. Of the city’s 23,746 housing units, 38.7% sit vacant. It is important to note, however, that vacant homes are not considered when calculating the homeownership rate.

7. Mentor, Ohio

• Homeownership rate: 86.0%

• Median owner-occupied home value: $169,400

• Median household income: $70,625

• Median rooms per housing unit: 6.5 rooms

Generally, in the cities where the most homes are owned by their residents, the median home value is relatively high. This is not the case in Mentor, Ohio, where most homes sell for under $170,000, as compared to the U.S. median home value of $193,500. Mentor’s median home value, however, is still higher than the median home value across Ohio as a whole of $135,100.

6. Blaine, Minnesota

• Homeownership rate: 86.1%

• Median owner-occupied home value: $202,000

• Median household income: $80,423

• Median rooms per housing unit: 6.5 rooms

Blaine, Minnesota, residents are among the most likely people in America to own the home they live in. The city seems to have a strong economy, with a median annual household income exceeding $80,000 and a poverty rate of 5.5%, both of which are highly favorable compared to national and state figures.

5. Sammamish, Washington

• Homeownership rate: 86.3%

• Median owner-occupied home value: $679,900

• Median household income: $157,271

• Median rooms per housing unit: 7.6 rooms

The median annual household income of Sammamish, Washington, of $157,271 is over $100,000 higher than the U.S. median. This is likely one of the reasons why Sammamish has a high homeownership rate of 86.3%, even though the value of homes in the area is much higher than the typical U.S. home.

4. Flower Mound, Texas

• Homeownership rate: 86.9%

• Median owner-occupied home value: $312,000

• Median household income: $128,426

• Median rooms per housing unit: 7.9 rooms

Housing units in Flower Mound, Texas, are among the largest in the country, with a median of nearly eight rooms. This Dallas-area city has a median annual household income of $128,426, more than double the U.S. median of $57,562.

3. Lakeville, Minnesota

• Homeownership rate: 86.9%

• Median owner-occupied home value: $276,500

• Median household income: $102,943

• Median rooms per housing unit: 7.5 rooms

Just south of the Twin Cities, Lakeville, Minnesota, has a median annual household income of nearly $103,000, well above the state’s median of $65,699. Nearly 87% of Lakeville occupied homes are occupied by their owners, one of the highest homeownership rates in the country. Homes in this city tend to be larger and more expensive than American homes, with a $276,500 median value and a 7.5 room per home median. Nationwide, the typical home has a value of $193,500 and 5.5 rooms.

2. Rowlett, Texas

• Homeownership rate: 87.6%

• Median owner-occupied home value: $181,500

• Median household income: $90,391

• Median rooms per housing unit: 6.9 rooms

Residents of Rowlett, Texas, are much less likely to struggle financially than Texans as a whole. The city’s 6.7% poverty rate is well below the Texas poverty rate of 16.0%. Like many of the other cities on this list, Rowlett has very few new homes being built. Just 2.8% of Rowlett homes were built since 2010, but nearly 24% of homes in the city were built from 2000 to 2009.

1. Orland Park, Illinois

• Homeownership rate: 89.2%

• Median household income: $85,802

• Median owner-occupied home value: $277,300

• Median rooms per housing unit: 6.6 rooms

Nearly 90% of all occupied homes in Orland Park, Illinois, are owned by their occupants, by far the highest homeownership rate in the country. Orland Park’s close proximity to Chicago allows residents access to the city’s numerous high-paying jobs. The median annual household income in the city of $85,802 is much higher than Illinois’ median of $61,229.

Methodology

To determine the cities where most people own their homes, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the 2017 American Community Survey on the percentage of occupied housing units that are occupied by their owners by city. Vacant homes were not considered. Home values, household income, and the median number of rooms per housing unit also came from the ACS. Cities with 20,000 or fewer total housing units were not considered. Census designated places were also not considered.

Source: usatoday

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