Is Co-living an Answer to the Affordable Housing Crisis?

Co-living has become a popular topic in housing development circles as the building industry contemplates new residential delivery models. This March at the international property industry event MIPIM in Cannes, discussions on co-living in France were being held, some in the mainstream program and others privately at various industry lunches and dinners. Most agree it’s a housing concept that is getting increased airtime and gaining traction.

 

I have engaged with a number of commercial developers in discussions around affordable housing, the advent of co-working and the preferences of the millennial generation, which include co-living. Interestingly, most commercial developers recognize the changing interests of millennials, with co-working advancing to become a well-accepted commercial development model.

Co-living, meanwhile, also appears to be making some inroads, particularly in delivering student housing and in highly densified cities. Co-living serves as a modern form of housing, whereby residents share values, interests, aspirations and living spaces.

It establishes a balance in which members feel there is no compromise between space, privacy, location, productivity and fulfilment. Outside these niche residential markets, it appears that co-living new build is still evolving and is not yet an accepted mainstream housing delivery model – but that could be changing.

An obvious solution

In March, we launched a startup incubator in Amsterdam with Techstars, and one of the 10 startups currently under development is founded on the premise of applying digital technology to facilitate co-living.

The startup is called Kndrd, and instead of addressing the new build audience, it focuses on property owners and building portfolio managers who may want to adapt their existing properties to accommodate the growing short-stay housing needs of business travellers.

It’s a fascinating outfit that has developed its own co-living management software, and sees itself as a digital platform that offers “housing as a service”.

Christine McDannell, co-founder and CEO of Kndrd and author of The Coliving Code, is quite bullish on the trend, and writes, “Co-living is absolutely the leading answer to our global urban housing crisis. Not only does it solve the cost and spatial demands associated with housing, but it also addresses the intimate aspects of human connection that have been lost. Loneliness rates have doubled in the past 10 years, and rent costs have gone up much more than that.

It’s very rare that a single solution can solve a complex multi-pronged issue like housing, but co-living truly does. We’ve built the technology platform to unite people globally by linking them to homes with complete efficiency in this otherwise fragmented industry […] It’s time that housing became as automated, flexible and on-demand as Uber – what I like to call ‘housing as a service’.”

As summarized in the graphic above, Kndrd recently produced a report about the current state of the co-living industry, based on a 62-question customer survey and with more than 10 countries represented. The top findings are that the average minimum stay is 58 days; co-living facilities have functioning websites but are not fully satisfied with them; while on average, these facilities have been in business for 1.8 years. A surprise takeaway from the surveyed group identified an unmet need for tech solutions such as shared digital platforms and the need for better facility promotion.

The role of tech

According to McDannell’s book, The Coliving Code: “There are so many benefits to shared living space that it’s amazing that it hasn’t been done at scale before. Of course, technology has helped us in this respect. Advances in the way we communicate and how we organize our lives have helped the co-living initiative take hold. There are so many ways you can take advantage of the current and future tech to make life easier. Co-living is an important one of these that deserves to be explored in more detail.”

Stepping back from the digital age, I recall that New York City, during its period of rapid population growth and vertical urbanization, utilized an affordable housing model called “single-room occupancy” (SRO). The SRO residential model was built around shared living for cooking, bathing and other common areas, with smaller private sleeping quarters for its residents. SROs could be rented for short-term stays, and many evolved into a long-term housing alternative. If this can work in NYC, one of the most densely populated cities in the world, it might be worth considering.

Other global cities, like London, are also looking at different housing models that will appeal to millennials as they enter the housing market. Whatever happens, the question of how we address the working and living needs of all citizens in a city’s future deserves increased consideration and digital enablement.

By Peter Oosterveer

Here’s how House Prices reacted to previous South African elections – and what you can expect this year

South African house prices could get a much-needed push following the election, if history is anything to go by.

In the months after a general election, house prices have generally accelerated, says Dr Andrew Golding, chief executive of the Pam Golding Property group. This is borne out by his group’s index of national house prices, which shows that, over the past 25 years, house prices have always followed an upward curve following an election.

“The degree of acceleration was impacted by various external factors existing at the time, such as the global and local economies, interest rates, the state of household finances, consumer confidence and the availability of credit from financial institutions,” Golding adds.

Unlike in any previous election year since 1994, house price growth is on a downward curve in South Africa – which could provide a serious test of the historical precedent.

And while Golding expects house prices to rebound following a “favourable election”, he cautions that it may only be seen later this year – after the seasonally quiet winter months.

“It is fair to say that the post-election environment is likely to be better for the property market – it is just a question of how much better it is. Will there be some market-friendly reforms introduced? Can SARS start collecting more revenue, thereby easing pressure on the already overburdened tax-paying public?”

A recent survey among professional investors by the research group Intellidex shows that almost 63% of the participants expect that if the ANC wins by a large enough majority, that will give president Cyril Ramaphosa a mandate to push through economic reforms – and that this will give the rand and shares a boost.

And for those who believe in this “mandate threshold”, the magic level that will trigger a rally seems to be 58.3%. If the ANC secures more than that in the national vote, they expect the rand, bonds and shares will rally.

A strong rand will help curb inflationary pressures and prevent interest rate hikes, which will help the property market.

State of the property market

The latest numbers from the property research group Lightstone shows that national house prices grew by 3.4% in the year to end-march.

The Western Cape (+5.8%) continues to outperform, while Ekurhuleni, Tshwane and Johannesburg house prices grew by between 2% and 4%. Coastal municipalities are generally performing above this range.

Looking ahead, household incomes are likely to remain under pressure in the short term – particularly with continued petrol price hikes (and with the introduction of a carbon tax in June), says Golding.

But with a large percentage of renters and buyers being newcomers to the market, the lower end of the market should continue to hold up well relative to other sectors of the market. Smaller sectional title properties will also perform better as a result (thanks to students, first-time buyers and down-scalers), he expects.

There is also a significant shortage of accommodation for students and of the right type of retirement developments in different parts of the country.

Helena Wasserman

Lagos and the Revitalisation of Ayinke House

Globally, there are edifices that hold profound admiration of people either by virtue of their iconic status or their value to human aspirations. These edifices exist with stories on how they transcend to become an accomplice of peoples fortune. In Lagos, one of those memorial structures that have garnered people’s affection over the years is Ayinke House. Ayinke House is a multispecialty medical centre managed by the State government to provide comprehensive maternal services and professional training for medical students and resident doctors in the State.

This maternal and child centre donated by the late Sir Mobolaji Bank Anthony and named after his mother at the premises of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, is a fortress for pre and post-natal services and women’s reproductive health care as well as the bedrock of obstetric practices nationwide.

The centre was a regular birthplace for many residents that hardly could one finds a Lagos home without a child being delivered in the house. It became so symbolic that many Lagosians unknowingly refer to the whole LASUTH complex as Ayinke House.

In 2010, after it became obvious that the structure and its facilities could not withstand the demands from the public, as a result of its overwhelming patronage within and outside Lagos, the past administration approved the renovation and upgrade of the centre, prompting the closure of significant part of its maternal and obstetrics care services.

Thereafter, government awarded the rebuilding contract to a constructing firm with stipulated period of time for its completion. But disappointedly, certain inevitable challenges frustrated the project which since then has limited the centre to run only the gynecological care (the care for diseases that affect women), excluding childbirth and pregnancy related illnesses.

Following critical inquisition and strategic engagement to resuscitating the enduring project, the present administration began its reconstruction in 2016, while pledging to make it a landmark project with sufficient apparatus that would dispense first class services to citizens.

The sight of the reconvened contractor enthralled the citizens as they were eager to enjoy qualitative healthcare which the centre is incipiently known for. Meanwhile, as the reconstruction was going on; other state government came to understudy the composition of the project and the array of dignitaries that besiege the home during its official commissioning by President Muhammadu Buhari makes the general feelings ominous.

Without doubt, the intention of the State government in making Ayinke House an ultra-modern and biggest maternity hospital in the country is to broaden the accessibility of comprehensive and consistent reproductive and maternal services.

This is a passionate way of improving the profile of maternal and neonatal mortality and mobility nationwide. While taking into cognizance the luxury this intelligent healthcare infrastructure would offer the state and the country at the state government accentuated that the stability of the health sector remains an incentive to building an enterprising society.

An insightful diagnoses of the project will leave no one in doubt that Lagos State government put a lot of commitment and resources to ensuring the facility lacks nothing for optimal service delivery and to be ranked alongside maternal and teaching hospitals in other parts of the world. The centre which originally has 80-bed capacity has now been expanded to 170 with medical facilities to behold.

The entrails of this new super ultra-modern hospital is adorned with standard equipment that include; 30 incubators; all with oxygen delivery system capability, neonatal life support, five operating theatres and oxygen plants as well as a special space for challenged newborn requiring intensive care. This facility for intensive care can effectively deliver and support pre-organ treatment with a capacity of 16 beds and very high-dependency unit that incorporates a theatre to attend to emergencies.

By completely digitalizing its operation with the state-of-the-art medical equipment and high-level information technology services, this foremost tertiary medical institution represent a major prospect in the country`s quest to be self-reliance in maternal and child health. While it presents a veritable avenue to connect global partners in the pursuit of synergetic management of women and child lifecycle, it is also an opportunity to mobilize domestic resources in solving emerging health infractions.

In order to allay the probable fear of workforce deficiency, the government has approved the intake of qualified medical personnel across board even before the completion of the facility as doctors, nurses, midwives, surgeons and other specialized staff have been incorporated into the operations.

Furthermore, the house which for years has been the nucleus of the teaching hospital in the training of medical students both at the undergraduate level and at the residency level for doctors can now optimally provide a highly specialized system of training, particularly in the field of obstetrics, gynecology and other allied fields like family medicine.

Thus, the capacity of LASUTH Postgraduate Medical College’s as a high-ranking medical institution in the world has been elevated. On the strength of its technical and human capability, the teaching institution is now an arable terrain for medical practitioners to embark on conventional biomedical and clinical research towards expanding the knowledge of reproductive health and sharing the discoveries worldwide to improve medical outcome.

Its candor towards emitting comparative policies and programmes put the State government at the frontier of good governance in the country. With an established effective health policies fashioned to advance equitable access to medical system and technologies, the city can now engage the future with hope and confidence. Since the health institution serves as the mechanical and social thread that binds the society to the realm of development and being an inevitable contingent of the smart city desire, the government remains perpetually faithful to meet the physical and emotional demands of its populace.

More importantly, effective use of resources to improve multiple health services is pivotal to meeting the sustainable development goals. Thus, as the Federal and other states government revel in the admiration of this impactful project, they are encouraged to exemplify this brand of salutary investment to achieve the universal health coverage for women and children.

By Kehinde Akinfenwa

The Future of Housing looks Nothing like Today’s

What does a living room have to do with living?

When Lisa Cini and her husband, kids, and rescue dog moved in with her parents and grandmother a few years ago, the Ohio-based architect pored over the design of her 94-year-old grandma’s bedroom “apartment.” An Alzheimer’s diagnosis made security and mobility important, but her ideas went beyond extra locks and grab-bars; she felt it was crucial that she have her own living room within the family home.

“It’s interesting, when we’re younger and full of life, when we’re just doing life so hard, we have to find time to sleep. But when we get old, when we’re slowing down so much, we have to work to find ways to do more life and less sleep,” Cini recalls in her book about living with four generations under one roof. Designing a separate living room gave her grandma a space to hang out, engage, and entertain visitors outside of her bedroom, a subtle but important distinction. “Her living room really helps her keep living life,” Cini observes.

Cini’s situation–four generations under one roof–was an unusual one, compared to the way most Americans have lived over the past century, when socioeconomic forces have made it normal for Americans to live as nuclear families, in contrast to the last few thousand years of human history.

But for complex reasons that still puzzle researchers, multigenerational households are now on the rise once more. As many as 41% of Americans buying a home are considering accommodating an elderly parent or an adult child, according to a survey conducted by John Burns Real Estate Consulting. Living with your parents (or your adult children) has plenty of potential benefits–everyone tends to save money, it can potentially benefit health outcomes, and you get to spend more time together.

[Photo: courtesy Mosaic Design]

Just one problem: American housing stock, dominated by single-family homes and connected by cars, isn’t really designed for it.

The average American today lives for about 78 years. For the majority of those decades, most of us will work–a necessity to afford a car, a home, and a retirement plan that accounts for our care in old age. The goal of each of those major life purchases is something Americans seem to value very highly: independence, or the freedom to go where you want, live how you wish, and age without being a burden.

The price of not achieving that perceived independence is the perceived shame of relying on someone else, whether your children or the government. This shame has deep roots in American life. Before the first nursing homes emerged in the 19th century, people who didn’t have a family or wealth to support themselves in old age were likely to end up in county-run “poorhouses,” where the indigent–whether they were criminals or simply unlucky–received rations, as Senior Livingexplains. Growing old in America can be a precarious business.

Institutional buildings soon sprang up to accommodate aging Americans, later giving way to private nursing homes. At the same time, it became more and more normal to leave home earlier as millions of young Americans left home in search of land or work in the boomtowns of the new West. World War II contributed to the trend as well, and the G.I. bill also helped create more geographical distance between young adults and their parents.

The advent of commercial air travel and the rapid expansion of American suburbia made inexpensive, single-family housing–and cross-country travel–attainable for more and more people. By 1950, just 21% of American households contained two or more generations. New funding for nursing homes from the Federal Housing Administration led to a boom in private nursing homes in 1950s and ’60s, and over time it became more and more normal to self-select into senior housing rather than living with your children. By 1980, the number of multigenerational homes had dropped to just 12%, according to Pew.

The emphasis on physical and financial independence at every stage of adulthood has high incurred costs, though. The first is the massive accumulation of capital, from money to land to natural resources to labor, necessary to supply the cars, airports, fuel, roads, land, and housing for a country of 327 million people who want to live conspicuously apart.

The second is social isolation. The idea that it’s normal for each nuclear family to own a single-family home, connected to other people only by cars, is actually “radical,” as architect and cohousing development consultant Katie McCamant puts it. “It’s held up this great dream that not only Americans should strive so hard for, but the whole rest of the world looks to as a model now,” she says. “There’s been so much emphasis on independence and on privacy that we really designed community right out of our lives without knowing it.”

A question that many Americans never get a chance to ask is: Should independence be the goal? Or should we seek out other people to rely on–not just for social reasons, but for economic and environmental ones, too? How do we want to live as we age–and how should we live, as this abundant era of American history comes to a close?

Over the past few years, Pew Research Center has periodically noted an intriguing trend in housing: More and more Americans are opting to live together. Compared to just 12% in 1980, the trend has been on a strong upward swing, with 20%, or 64 million Americans, living with two or more adult generations in a single household.

 

It’s still too early to say exactly why. An analysis of internal migration in the U.S. by the Federal Reserve Board’s Divisions of Research & Statistics and Monetary Affairs found that domestic migration reached an “inflection point” in 1980, and has been in decline ever since. While the Great Recession and the contraction of the housing market are factors, the authors note, they aren’t the primary reason why Americans are less and less mobile: “The puzzle remains.”

In short, for complex economic, social, and cultural reasons, what constitutes “normal” housing for seniors in America is changing. Culture may also play a role. “I think there’s a tighter connection just generationally between young adults and their parents,” says Chris Porter, an analyst at John Burns Real Estate Consulting who tracks housing trends.

 

That closeness is influencing the senior housing market, as well as the way senior-focused housing is marketed. “We’re seeing the golf course as less of an amenity these days for senior housing,” says Porter, who has worked with several developers to redevelop golf courses as housing. “The real amenity for seniors is being near their kids and grandkids. I think that comes back to that connection between the boomers and their kids.”

[Photo: Julie Jacobson/AP/Shutterstock]

For families that can afford it, major homebuilders are now offering “multigenerational” floor plans that make space for three or more generations. Lennar, one of the largest homebuilders in the United States, launched a suite of floorplans that the company branded Next Gen in 2011. It describes its designs with a tagline: “Two homes. Under one roof.”

Typical features include separate entrances and garages that let parents come and go as they please. These “in-law” units often have their own kitchenette and living spaces, too. The company touts the financial benefits of a multigen home: There’s just one mortgage, you’ll spend less on gas and waste less time commuting; you’ll also spend less on childcare, the company claims: “Getting a babysitter means getting quality time with the grandparents.” Lennar now offers Next Gen models in 13 states, and notes that its floor plans are also well-equipped to serve special needs adults and their families.

One urbanist points out that there are drawbacks to aging in a single-family suburban development, which tend to neglect walkability–an important factor for seniors who want to be mobile and engaged in their communities.

But in any case, homes designed specifically for multigenerational living are still a small segment of the housing market. Far more common are families that have renovated their homes to suit aging parents or adult children, like the architect Cini, whose firm Mosaic Design specializes in senior design, particularly assisted living centers. Her personal experience with multigenerational life eventually led to a book, Hive, a practical how-to for other families who, either by necessity or choice, are moving in together. In large part, Hive addresses the unspoken taboos and tensions of living with your parents and grandparents.

“I had so many people–friends and family and business associates and clients–that said, ‘Oh yeah, my mother-in-law lives with us. Oh yeah, we’ve been doing that for years,’” Cini says. “And I had no idea because nobody talks about it. And because nobody talks about it, it creates a lot more stress because you can’t commiserate with and laugh about the issues and really find out, you know, kind of hacks on how to live.”

[Photo: courtesy Mosaic Design]

Cini recalls dealing with the design problem of making her parents and grandmother feel welcome in their living room (make it more like a frat house, she councils only half-jokingly: enough seating for everyone, then more). She designed a private entrance for her 94-year-old grandmother’s suite–formerly the home’s garage–and decided to keep a series of stairs leading to the apartment (a key point: stairs shouldn’t be avoided, no matter your age; they’re exercise).

Other design choices were more contentious. Something as simple as storage can be emotional for grandparents who are moving into their adult children’s homes; giving them space to display memories of their lives is crucial. Finding the line between togetherness and privacy can be a matter of material choice and soundproofing, too. Cini remembers being mortified to hear moaning coming from her parents’ room one night (her mom had a leg cramp).

Cini’s grandmother passed last year, and looking back, she has a few things she would do differently. Some have to do with small quality-of-life details: She wishes she would have added heated flooring to her grandma’s bathroom and a light under every stair. Others underline the challenges of designing for four generations with different expectations about technology. Even though she and her husband could control their Philips Hue lights from their phones, her dad missed the light switch. “It’s still about choice. I think we forget that that should be an option,” she says.

[Photo: courtesy Mosaic Design]

The experience is also reshaping her professional practice. This year, her studio bought a historic mansion in Columbus, Ohio, that dates back to 1914. Cini is turning the 10,000-square-foot building into a kind of Airbnb for aging–a model home designed to let families try out living together in multigenerational layouts. Working with partners from across the homebuilding industry, including Toto and Shaw Flooring, Cini is retrofitting the building with everything from step-in tubs and an at-home gym with specialized machines for seniors to details as small as toilet paper holders that double as grab-bars. “The idea is not only to have what is currently on the market but also to beta test products and gain valuable market feedback,” she explains.

Her studio will relocate to the mansion’s carriage house, behind the property. “Having our design studio in view will create a natural dialog to help us serve the aging-in-place market with better designs and product development,” she says. The renovations are just beginning, and she hopes to open the model home-slash-hotel next year.

Her long-term vision, she says, is to open similar rental properties in major cities, where families interested in multigenerational homes can experience one in real life. “A whole family can stay there and kind of actually see: ‘Can we do this? Is this gonna work?’” she says. “What kind of little tweaks can we make before they just get into it?”

According to research by the AARP, almost 90% of seniors want to remain in their own homes as they age, also known as aging in place. That can be complex. For a multitude of reasons, living with your adult children, if you have them, isn’t always an option. Caregivers are increasingly hard to come by, and not all homes are designed for aging bodies.

There are other, subtle problems that aging in place can create, as the architect Katie McCamant points out. “What I hear a lot is when people first retire, they often say, ‘I’ve never been busier. I’m involved in all these clubs and these groups and doing this and that and volunteering there,’” she says. But all that activity usually depends entirely on the ability to drive. Take that away, and aging in place gets more complex. “You find out that my connection to all these things I’m so busy with is my car. And if I can’t drive, I’m totally cut off.”

McCamant is an expert in what you might describe as a third way between conventional senior living centers and the single-family, multigenerational household. As an architect and a development consultant, she has helped groups of Americans around the country build their own “cohousing,” a term for a group of private homes that share community spaces and resources. Cohousing was first pioneered in Denmark in the 1960s, but it has found a growing foothold in the U.S. McCamant got interested in the idea decades ago, as a young architect and parent with a strong interest in the power of neighborhoods–and how they’ve been neglected in American housing.

“I believe that if people connect to their neighbors, they’re going to get more connected to their town. If they’re more connected to their town, they’re connected to the government, to the state, and they’re more active,” she explains. “So when people don’t connect in their neighborhood, it really is the beginning of a much larger isolation from everything.”

Cohousing takes many forms: It can be a group of young families who want to share the cost of childcare and housework by pooling their resources, for instance, with one family responsible for the cooking one day and watching the kids the next. But there’s also a burgeoning network of senior-focused cohousing projects taking shape around the country, where the model offers seniors the ability to age in place, in a sense, while offering each other physical and social support.

“It’s really about a proactive approach to: What do I want to do with this last third of my life and how do I set myself up for that?” McCamant says. For seniors–who are increasingly baby boomers who came of age during the countercultural revolution–cohousing offers an alternative to corporate senior-living complexes, along with the freedom to determine the design, values, and vibe of a collective senior community.

In 2015, McCamant founded her own development consulting group, CoHousing Solutions, to work with groups interested in building their own cohousing developments. That includes projects like PDX Commons, a 27-unit housing complex that was recently completed in downtown Portland, Oregon.

 

Oriented around a shared courtyard, homeowners share other amenities like a great room, roof deck, and guest suites for visiting family or caregivers. They also share a mission statement that includes respect, cooperation, and nurturing. While one person age 55 or older must live in 80% of the Commons’ homes, according to fair housing regulations, children and adults are welcome to live in any of the units along with their senior-aged owners.

PDX Commons [Photo: courtesy CoHousing Solutions]

While there are over 170 cohousing communities in the U.S. today, there are major hurdles associated with building one. The cost of one new home is gargantuan; for the average American, developing a group of them is unthinkable. “For most Americans, buying a house is your single largest investment,” McCamant says. “So I might rent a lot of different things, but when I come to buy? Developers are conservative, buyers are conservative, so changing anything in the housing world is long and slow.”

Part of McCamant group’s mission is to share best practices for building cohousing with clients, developers, and architects. “If we’re going to move it forward, we need to start from the best practices and get better–not reinvent the wheel,” she says.

Her goal is to see the next 500 cohousing projects built within the U.S., which means teaching other people. She runs a yearly training program called 500 Communities, aimed at “training the next generation of cohousing professionals,” from topics like construction management to cash flow. This year’s participants include commercial real estate experts, architects, economists, housing advocates for seniors and neurodiverse populations, and a diverse array of other professional backgrounds. The value proposition behind cohousing, it seems, is attractive to more than just the clients.

[Photo: courtesy CoHousing Solutions]

Cohousing isn’t the only alternative to conventional senior living centers emerging in the U.S. Other models aimed at better connecting seniors with younger generations are slowly starting to pop up after finding success in Europe. One is known as “site-sharing,” or situating senior housing in cooperation with a daycare or school. Another alternative is what Donna Butts, executive director of the policy group Generations United, calls “intergenerational home-sharing.” In this case, college-aged people can rent rooms from seniors at reduced prices, in exchange for help around the house and engagement–from having dinner to walking the dog.

“We really think that there’s a policy piece in the future with that that will tie student debt reduction with supports for aging in place, but it’s not there yet,” Butts says. Cities like Boston are already piloting the idea, offering affordable housing to grad students in exchange for help with chores. “The two populations that suffer the most from social isolation are younger and older,” Butts says. “And we haven’t built our communities in recent years so that they can bridge those differences in generation and differences in lifestyles.”

 

During the industrial revolution, the “poorhouses” where many elders ended up gave way to more institutionalized care centers. Abe Bortz, a historian of social security in the U.S., observed that these early senior living buildings looked more like factories than homes.

 

In other words, the way we choose to house ourselves reflects the things we value and the ideas we see as progressive. For the last century or so, those values have been independence, privacy, and individuality. Now, Americans face a twin challenge: First, the increasing expense of homeownership and retirement. Second, the uncertainty of an economy and climate in flux. A recent study of hundreds of California cities and their carbon footprints concluded that housing–and specifically, housing that makes cities more dense, infilling around existing suburbs and transit stops–can “reduce greenhouse gas pollution more effectively than any other option.”

 

American cities and suburbs will need to undergo a radical change in response to climate change, shifting away from single-family homes and toward denser housing typologies, away from personal vehicles and toward public transit, walkability, and shared cars, away from independence and towards resource sharing. Ironically, we stand to benefit from those changes as we age.

What type of life do we want to age into? What does the right amount of togetherness look like? A mixture of economic, demographic, and environmental forces are now emerging to force the answer–and over the next few decades, we’ll find out which of these nascent ways of living wins out.

BY KELSEY CAMPBELL-DOLLAGHAN

Single Women are Now the Biggest Group of Property Buyers in South Africa

  • Almost 72,000 single women bought residential properties in South Africa last year, according to the research group Lightstone.
  • This makes them the largest single group of property buyers in South Africa – bigger than married couples or single men.
  • However, single women are still buying cheaper homes compared to the other groups.
  • Women now also represent 48% of new car sales, Lightstone reports. 

Last year year, almost 72,000 single women bought residential properties in South Africa, according to the property and vehicle research group Lightstone.

This is considerably more than both single men (62,000) and also more than couples – making single women the largest group of buyers in South Africa.

The graph below compares the number of properties sold to single women (bright blue), to those sold to single men (dark blue), married couples (bright green) and multiple buyers (dark green).

Cindy Bezuidenhout, lead analyst at Lightstone Property, says female buyers have been steadily increasing since 2016, noticeably overtaking the male and married couple markets.

Single female property buyers largely dominate in Gauteng and then by a smaller margin in the Eastern Cape. Married couples outnumber other buyer types in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

But while single women represent the most property sales, they are still buying cheaper homes.

South African married couples purchase properties with the highest value, followed by single men.

So far in 2019, married couples have bought properties with an average sale price of almost R1.2 million – compared to around R1 million and around R800,000 for single women.

Since 2013, women have been the main buyers of houses below R250,000.

A Lightstone report released last year, showed that women were responsible for 48% of new cars sales at dealerships in the six months to July last year.

Almost 70% of Fiat cars were bought by women, followed by Hyundai (63%), Mazda (62.6%) and Kia (59%). Some 15% of Ferrari buyers were women, and 6% of Porsche cars.

The report showed that the most popular vehicle types among women were the Mazda 3, Mazda CX-2, Ford EcoSport, VW Polo and Polo Vivo.

The survey showed that 60% to 80% of women are likely to take up offers of insurance, service plans and extended warranties, compare to between 50% and 70% of men.

Source: Businessinsider

Everyone Agrees California Has a Housing Crisis. Trying to Fix It Has Become a Battle.

“Everyone hates SB 50—everyone hates it,” said California state Sen. Scott Wiener at a recent forum on the state’s housing crisis. “You hear people getting upset about it, yelling about it, coming down to City Hall and yelling.” Flanked by real estate developers and housing rights advocates, Wiener, a Democrat who represents San Francisco, had come to discuss his ideas for solving the problem—which meant talking about the heated reaction to his signature piece of legislation, Senate Bill 50—the housing bill Californians seem to love to hate.

Everyone agrees that California is facing a housing crisis. Rents and home prices are soaring: The median home price in the San Francisco Bay Area is $830,000; in Los Angeles County it’s almost $600,000. Homelessness is increasing: Nearly a quarter of the nation’s homeless population lives in California. Low-income residents are being displaced by the wealthy: More than half of all home buyers in San Francisco last year work in the software industry. And there just isn’t enough housing to go around. Wiener likes to cite a report by McKinsey that found that California has 3.5 million fewer homes than it needs.

“The fundamental problem is that we have a massive housing shortage, which explodes housing costs and which puts enormous pressure on tenants in particular because the rents go so high,” Wiener told me just before the forum. “We have to lessen that pressure by adding more housing of all varieties at all incomes.” SB 50 is his attempt to expand the housing market to allow for faster, bigger, and denser residential construction. It’s an idea that many people agree with in the abstract, but in trying to make a workable plan, Wiener has grabbed one of the third rails of California politics.

SB 50’s opponents have called it “an act of war on homeowners” and “a Trojan horse for big developers’ profits.” One housing rights group said it would cause “Negro removal.” While complaining about the bill, the vice mayor of Beverly Hills likenedpro-housing “Sacramento politicians” to the Old Testament villain Haman. Politicians from SF to LA worry the bill would undermine local housing plans; suburban NIMBYs don’t want apartment buildings in their neighborhoods; and housing rights activists lambast the bill’s “trickle-down” approach, which they say will only further fuel gentrification.

At SB 50’s core is “upzoning,” overriding local zoning laws that prohibit higher-density housing construction in residential areas. Currently, zoning requirements in 80 percent of California forbid building anything other than single-family residences (with some allowances for in-law units). SB 50 would open up some of those areas—particularly those near major transit hubs, job clusters, and good schools—to higher-density residential construction. Developers would be allowed to build taller buildings with more units, with a requirement that a certain number must be rented below market rate.

The bill’s critics say it would not make a real dent in housing prices. “What the Wiener bill really is about is raising housing opportunities for highly skilled, relatively high-income people,” said Michael Storper, a professor of urban planning at the University of California-Los Angeles. SB 50 is built on the assumption that the market will react to upzoning by building more housing. That’s true, said Storper, but he warns that “the market will respond in the areas where the price of the construction is met by an effective market demand—a return on its investment.” And that means housing for the well-off.

“Everyone hates SB 50—everyone hates it,” said California state Sen. Scott Wiener at a recent forum on the state’s housing crisis. “You hear people getting upset about it, yelling about it, coming down to City Hall and yelling.” Flanked by real estate developers and housing rights advocates, Wiener, a Democrat who represents San Francisco, had come to discuss his ideas for solving the problem—which meant talking about the heated reaction to his signature piece of legislation, Senate Bill 50—the housing bill Californians seem to love to hate.

Everyone agrees that California is facing a housing crisis. Rents and home prices are soaring: The median home price in the San Francisco Bay Area is $830,000; in Los Angeles County it’s almost $600,000. Homelessness is increasing: Nearly a quarter of the nation’s homeless population lives in California. Low-income residents are being displaced by the wealthy: More than half of all home buyers in San Francisco last year work in the software industry. And there just isn’t enough housing to go around. Wiener likes to cite a report by McKinsey that found that California has 3.5 million fewer homes than it needs.

“The fundamental problem is that we have a massive housing shortage, which explodes housing costs and which puts enormous pressure on tenants in particular because the rents go so high,” Wiener told me just before the forum. “We have to lessen that pressure by adding more housing of all varieties at all incomes.” SB 50 is his attempt to expand the housing market to allow for faster, bigger, and denser residential construction. It’s an idea that many people agree with in the abstract, but in trying to make a workable plan, Wiener has grabbed one of the third rails of California politics.

SB 50’s opponents have called it “an act of war on homeowners” and “a Trojan horse for big developers’ profits.” One housing rights group said it would cause “Negro removal.” While complaining about the bill, the vice mayor of Beverly Hills likenedpro-housing “Sacramento politicians” to the Old Testament villain Haman.

Politicians from SF to LA worry the bill would undermine local housing plans; suburban NIMBYs don’t want apartment buildings in their neighborhoods; and housing rights activists lambast the bill’s “trickle-down” approach, which they say will only further fuel gentrification.

At SB 50’s core is “upzoning,” overriding local zoning laws that prohibit higher-density housing construction in residential areas. Currently, zoning requirements in 80 percent of California forbid building anything other than single-family residences (with some allowances for in-law units). SB 50 would open up some of those areas—particularly those near major transit hubs, job clusters, and good schools—to higher-density residential construction. Developers would be allowed to build taller buildings with more units, with a requirement that a certain number must be rented below market rate.

The bill’s critics say it would not make a real dent in housing prices. “What the Wiener bill really is about is raising housing opportunities for highly skilled, relatively high-income people,” said Michael Storper, a professor of urban planning at the University of California-Los Angeles. SB 50 is built on the assumption that the market will react to upzoning by building more housing. That’s true, said Storper, but he warns that “the market will respond in the areas where the price of the construction is met by an effective market demand—a return on its investment.” And that means housing for the well-off.

Upzoning cannot change the high cost of building, nor can it make lower-income neighborhoods more desirable to developers, said Storper. “It will gentrify what’s left to gentrify in the highly desirable areas,” he predicted.

Opponents of SB 50 point to Chicago, where smaller-scale, targeted up zoning laws did not lead to the expected boom of new units. As a recent study found, real estate speculation soared and housing and land prices increased in the upzoned areas. Another study found that upzoning in New York City further fueled the displacement of minority and working-class residents.

Its authors recommended that upzoning needs to be balanced with policies to prevent displacement. Francisco Dueñas, the housing campaign director at the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, said, “We think that in general, similar to what happened in Chicago, [SB 50] is just going to increase the value of that land, fueling greater speculation, and then that gets translated into increased rent and more people getting pushed out.”

If anything, this would lightly create the conditions for more luxury housing for neighborhoods that don’t necessarily need them,” said Rene Christian Moya, director of Housing is a Human Right, a branch of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. (In April, the AHF sent out mailers attacking Wiener, comparing SB 50 to the urban renewal policies that author James Baldwin had called “Negro removal.” In response, Wiener called AHF a “fake non-profit” with “zero credibility.”)

Despite the vitriol and backlash, Wiener says he is optimistic about his bill’s chances. “When you actually look at polls on SB 50…it consistently polls well,” he said. A poll from April found that 61 percent of Californians support SB 50. In February, a poll by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce found that 74 percent of people in the city supported the bill. Its broad range of supporters includes groups like the California Labor Federation and the California Chamber of Commerce, as well as the California League of Conservation Voters, Habitat for Humanity, and the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California.

 

In 2011, he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Housing costs in the city had always been high, but around then they went “through the roof—everything exploded.” One story sticks out to him: “I was walking down the street where I lived, and my neighbor, an older gentleman, said, ‘Scott, I’m really scared.’ And I said, ‘Why are you scared?’ And he said, ‘My landlord is painting my building.’ Normally, as a tenant, you should be thrilled that your landlord is painting your building, but immediately he saw that as a sign that he was going to sell the building, which meant he was going to be evicted.”

Wiener’s first housing bill, which he introduced last year, met a quick and fiery demise. It lacked any meaningful affordability standards and didn’t make it out of its first committee hearing. Wiener took the criticism to heart, tweaked the bill to add protections for renters and to set up affordability requirements, and reintroduced it as SB 50 in December. It has passed through two committees and is now slated for the Senate Appropriations Committee in mid-May, its last hurdle before it can go to the Senate floor. California Gov. Gavin Newsom hasn’t weighed in on SB 50, but he has pledged to make up the state’s 3.5 million home gap by 2025.

 

Wiener says he understands the concerns about his approach. He’s also pared down one of the most controversial aspects of the original version of SB 50, which allowed developers to pay a fee that would go toward building affordable units elsewhere rather than build them into their projects. Those affordable units must be built nearby, said Wiener, and “the certificate of occupancy can’t be granted for the market rate units until the affordable project is underway.

 

Unlike his previous bill, SB 50 allows “sensitive communities” at risk of displacement to opt out of its requirements for five years. It would not change existing affordability requirements in cities that have them. For cities that don’t, it mandates that between 15 and 25 percent of newly built units are below market rate, depending on the size of the project.

But the bill’s critics say that won’t do enough for the Californians struggling the most to pay for housing. “If you just say you’ll build more with the current inadequate affordability protections, you’ll get more inadequately affordable housing,” said Storper. “It’s not Scott Wiener’s fault—the basic affordability provisions that he’s bringing into his bill are so bad that merely reproducing them will not change much anywhere.”

 

Wiener said there’s a fine line here: If you boost the number of affordable units that developers have to incorporate into their projects, it can make those projects financially unfeasible. “If you do that, then you end up with no housing and no affordable units,” he said. “So you try to find the sweet spot where you’re pushing the percentage as high as you can go without jeopardizing the project.”

Wiener’s detractors also point to his ties to the real estate and construction industries. The Action Center on Race and the Economy recently published a report that found that California’s real estate industry spent $110 million on lobbying and campaign spending since 2008. Some of the biggest spenders—the California Building Industry Association, the California Apartment Association, and the California Association of Realtors—have spent heavily against tenant protection measures and have also contributed to Wiener’s campaigns.

“That’s part of the broader context,” said Dueñas. “The affordable housing organizations aren’t on a level playing field; we don’t have the money to lobby as much as market rate developers.” Wiener claims the donations don’t affect how he votes. Real estate and developers “contribute to a lot of members of the legislature, including members who aren’t supporting the bill,” he notes.

 

The larger problem, according to Storper, is that SB 50 doesn’t address the economic inequality that is the root of the California’s housing crisis. The only way to deal with it, he said, is through subsidies and public housing. “Inequalities of income plus urbanization are really toxic combos,” he said. “How deep is society’s commitment to dealing with [the crisis]?”

By BRYAN SCHATZ

Security, Infrastructure, Jobs Top Nigerians’ Demand From Incoming Govs

Ahead of the inauguration of governors-elect in 29 states of the federation on May 29, 2019, Nigerians have set agenda for the state chief executives. Governorship elections were not held in Anambra, Bayelsa, Edo, Ekiti, Kogi, Ondo, and Osun states during the 2019 general elections because the tenure of the incumbent governors had not expired.

Prominent among the citizens’ demands from the incoming governors are adequate security,  infrastructure, more jobs, and affordable housing. Others are quality healthcare services, education, women and youth empowerment, and soft loans. In a nationwide interview conducted by LEADERSHIP Weekend on their agenda from both the new governors and others re-elected for a second term, Nigerians charged them to rally round all the security agencies to tackle the security challenges facing the country.

They lamented that there was no part of the country again where the citizens sleep with their two eyes closed because of the activities of kidnappers, bandits, Boko Haram insurgents, armed robbers, and cultists. According to them, they expect the incoming governors to use their first 100 days in office to hit the ground running by sending a strong message to criminals across the country that it won’t be business as usual for them again.

 

Mr. Gideon Jomun, a graduate and an indigene of Benue State said that the best legacies Governor Samuel Ortom can leave at the end of his eight-year rule is to quickly address his poor performance during the first term by collaborating with security forces top make Benue safe, tackle the widespread unemployment in the state by empowering women and youths with skills and loans.

He said that the people need jobs because the only thriving industry in the state is Okada riding (commercial motorcycling). This has resulted in urban migration, he said, adding that governor should also pay the workers’ salaries and pensions. Dr. Abigail Ubah called for improved healthcare services while Christian Osante, CEO, Bridgetown Integrated Solutions, want security prioritised.

Beat Al-Makura’s Record, Nasarawa People Tell Sule Residents in Nasarawa State said that the new governor, Abdullahi Alhaji Sule, who was elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), should not think that running the state would be a tea party, considering the humongous challenges before him.

They charged him to perform better than the outgoing governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, who they noted executed several projects and infrastructure. In spite of Al-Makura performance, the people said that Sule must revive the Nasarawa On The Move public transport agency which in the past generated huge revenue for the state. “

The incoming governor must revive the once most vibrant transport company in the country to prove that he is a businessman,” Yakubu Adamu said. On his part, Alhaji Mahmmud, an APC stakeholder, tasked the new governor to ensure that his commissioners present their workplan with an inbuilt targeting system that must be reported upon weekly or bi-weekly at the State Executive Council (SEC) meeting.

APC youth leader in the state, Mohammed Ayitogo, said that like other states in the country, Nasarawa has a vibrant teeming population of youths and asked Sule to harness their potential in agriculture, sports, ICT, entertainment and others. Mrs. Olubumi Daniel, a pharmacist said that the incoming government should correct the mistakes of the past governments by providing a congenial working environment for medical professionals to work.

Bala Mohammed Tasked On Youth Empowerment, Inclusive Govt In Bauchi State, a human rights activist, Mbami Sabka wants incoming governor Bala Mohammed to run an inclusive government in appointments and job creation. He said that there should be an effective youth empowerment programme to reduce the crime rate in the state. Sabka who interfaces with prison inmates through his Prison Inmates Development Initiatives (PIDI), explained that white collar jobs had become a mirage hence the governor-elect should ensure that the youths are actively engaged. For Mahmuda Danliti, the new government should empower the youths to guard against idleness.

Danliti, a tricycle rider, lamented that many youths who have graduated from schools have no jobs. He, therefore, wants the incoming administration to provide employment for them so that violence and other criminal activities can be reduced. Katsina Stakeholders Want Special Focus On Security Experts, trade unionists, and others in Katsina State have asked re-elected governor Aminu Masari to squarely face the security challenges and speedily implement the new minimum wage of N30,000.

Comrade Kabir Garba Matazu, former deputy secretary-general of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), said that the worrisome security situation in the state must not be toyed with and that the take-off of the new wage must not be delayed. Matazu said: “Out of the problems that cut across almost all the six geo-political zones of Nigeria, the foremost is insecurity. There is a need for collaboration between Katsina State and the federal government “to ensure that there is relative peace because without peace nothing works.”

The former chairman of Public Service Joint Negotiating Council, Katsina State and former chairman of the state chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Alhaji Lawal Zingina, enjoined Masari to continue to build on the solid foundation his administration had laid in education, agriculture, health and security sectors. Dr. Lolu Ademoye of Family Care Hospital said that there should be more funding for the health sector especially as many people were dying from diseases and sicknesses that are presentable.

Borno Stakeholders Wants Adequate Security, Workers’ Welfare Stakeholders in Borno State have urged the incoming administration of Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum to consolidate on the achievements of Governor Kashim Shettima in the areas of security, human capital development and the resettlement of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). A human rights activist, Hamsatu Alamin called for synergy between the state government and the federal government to end the over 10-year Boko Haram insurgency which has impoverished the people of the state.

She lamented that some displaced persons including children orphaned by the terrorists were still wallowing in pains with no hope in sight for them. The newly-elected state chairman of the NLC, Comrade Bulama Abiso, urged the new governor to go back to the drawing board on the welfare of workers.

Abiso said that the story of workers in the state is one of mixed feelings of joy, sadness, noting that while workers were joyous for getting the N18,000 minimum wage, some were yet to benefit from the package. ‘el-Rufai Must Tackle Insecurity, Unemployment, Poverty In Kaduna’ A Kaduna-based legal practitioner, Abuul Hiifan, has appealed to returning governor Nasir el-Rufai to immediately address insecurity, unemployment, and poverty in the state.

Abuul also tasked him to boost internally-generated revenue for self-reliance than relying on federal allocations. Also, Barr. Suleiman Ahmed Akasawua, national chairman of NPC and president, Democracy Dividends Development Initiatives, charged the governor to tackle the disunity in the state. Citizens Seek Better Business Environment In Kebbi In the next four years, the people of Kebbi State want returning governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu to create a more conducive atmosphere for business to thrive in the state.

A businessman in Kebbi, Alhaji Umar Yalli, who sells communication gadgets/recharge cards in the state capital asked the governor to explore more investment sources to develop the hide and skin sector. Yalli said that the state was blessed with abundant livestock and its products hence the need to take advantage of it for the benefit of the people. ‘’If Bagudu can replicate what is happening in Aba, I mean to construct a similar leather factory in the state, it will certainly help in boosting the economy of the state and providing jobs to our teaming unemployed youths,” he said.

A prominent politician and chairman of Kebbi APC Elders’ Forum, Alhaji Sani Hukuma Zauro, implored the governor-elect to invest in human resources and appoint people of integrity to help him deliver on his mandate to people during his second tenure. He said that the only way the state could develop rapidly was by getting people who are trusted, hardworking and innovative to form the new government. Tambuwal’s Govt Too Elitist, Say Artisans, Others Scores of professionals and artisans in Sokoto State have asked re-elected governor Aminu Tambuwal, to do better in his second term by promoting good governance.

They urged him to change his governance principle from what they termed “elitist mentality and undue protocols” by allowing the led to have more access to him. Also, majority of the workers in the state said that though Tambuwal has tried in salary payment, they, however, admonished him to consider the implementation of the new minimum wage of N30,000. The artisans and laymen took a swipe at the governor’s approach to governance and lamented that his government is not impacting them like his predecessors.

Agriculture, Industries Deserve Special Attention In Imo In Imo State, Chief Nwadiuto Nnakwe Ubaruo, an Owerri-based businessman said that the recession occasioned by the global economic downturn is still affecting businesses and state affairs. He said:  “I expect the governor-elect, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, to put smiles on the faces of Imolites by putting food on the tables of these embattled class of people.

 

“Our agricultural sector should be revived and genuinely interested farmers given the necessary incentives to go into intensive and extensive farming,” he said. Nze Benson Nkwachukwu Ugwegbulem, a school teacher said that “the governor-elect should create jobs for the teeming unemployed youths, adding that the state’s school system needs a surgical operation to promote qualitative teaching and learning.”

Chief Nehemiah Iwuchukwu Ohadinjo, a lawyer, asked Ihedioha to establish factories and industries in the state, operate sound economic policies and bring in experts into strategic sectors to boost the economy. Deltans Challenge Okowa On Education, Others For re-elected governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, NUT chairman, Comrade Titus Okotie, said that he should motivate the teachers to give their best. He said: “Another area is university graduates teaching in primary schools. We want a situation during the governor’s second term that justice and fair play reign; that where everyone will be compensated according to his or her qualifications.

University graduate-teachers in primary schools should be promoted beyond Level 13 and it should not be a selective exercise. Comrade Sheriff Mulade, an environmental activist, said: “We have a slogan for Okowa’s second term and that is ‘Okowa for Cleaner Delta,’ because when you go round Delta State, especially the major cities, Asaba, Kwale, Agbor, Ughelli, Sapele, Warri, Oghara, they do not show that we are environmentally conscious. Our environment is not friendly.” A youth leader, Ozofere Andrew, said: “We advise him not to embark on discriminating governance, he should run an inclusive government.” Cross Riverians Demand Equity, Fairness From Gov Ayade Mr.

Clarkson Otu, a lawyer and chairman of the Cross River State chapter of Trade Union Congress (TUC) called on Governor Ben Ayade to ensure equity, social justice, and fairness in the distribution of the common wealth instead of a few enjoying it while the majority wallow in abject poverty. Clarkson also asked the re-elected governor not to borrow for the construction of a superhighway because it is not important to the state now, Dr.  Margaret Arop, a medical doctor said that Ayade should solve the problems of workers’ gratuities and promotions seriously. She sought special treatment for medical practitioners to boost their morale and ensure effective service delivery.

 

To Joy Nsan, a teacher, Ayade should with no further delay implement the N30,000 new minimum wage. Enugu, Oyo Electorate Plead For Loans, Improved IGR In an interview with LEADERSHIP Weekend in Enugu, the programme coordinator of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), Mr. Kindness Jonah, said that agriculture is one of the pivotal issues that should be looked into by the governor-elect. He advised the re-elected governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, to find out the problems facing the sector and tackle them so that agriculture would occupy its rightful position in the state.

A businessman, Mr. Ikechukwu Agu, urged the governor to further provide soft loans for businessmen and women in the state. A cross section of residents of Oyo State has appealed to the governor-elect, Mr. Seyi Makinde, to base his economic blueprint on how to improve on the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).

A political analyst, Olusola Ogundele, said that the promised free education, free medical services and other basic needs for the people by politicians during electioneering had become unfulfilled, as most of them could not raise the money to implement them. He, therefore, called on the incoming governor to think outside the box to generate the money to finance his projects and programmes. Barr.

Olatunde Ademola said that the outgoing government had laid a solid foundation for modern Oyo State and urged Makinde to raise the bar in infrastructural development. An educationist, Mrs. Abimbola Aweda, said that the development of the education sector would lead to the development of other sectors, and appealed to the governor-elect to increase the sectoral allocation to meet the standard set by UNESCO Lagos Physically-challenged Begs Sanwo-Olu For Assistance The National Association of Persons Living With Disabilities (NAPLWD) Lagos State chapter wants the governor-elect, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to assist its members.

The state chairman of NAPLWD, Dare Dairo, urged Sanwo-Olu to institute a culture of inclusion in all facets of government planning, policies and programmes for them to contribute their quota to the development of the state. He also appealed to the governor-elect to implement the Lagos Disability Law when he takes over the mantle of leadership in the state, noting that, “most local government authorities are not aware of the disability law which provides a comprehensive legal and policy framework for the empowerment, welfare and protection of the rights of people living with disabilities in the state.”

Dapo Abiodun Should Learn From Amosun’s Mistakes There is, however, uncertainty in Ogun State over the ability and the willingness of the governor-elect, Prince Dapo Abiodun, to fulfil his electoral promises when he assumes office. Most of the residents said that they were worried about the incoming governor’s promises in the areas of security, education, and primary healthcare delivery.

 

A medical practitioner, Dr. Adewunmi Alayaki, asked the incoming administration to embark on a fact-finding mission across the state to enable him identify those areas where the citizens were not happy with the outgoing governor which made his anointed candidate to lose the election. “Let Dapo Abiodun listen to what the people say about Amosun; look at those areas where he failed and then harmonise them with his programme of actions for the state,” he said.

 

The national secretary of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Comrade Yinka Folarin, advised the governor-elect to prioritise good governance and enhance participatory government. A legal practitioner, Isaac Izuyan, would want the incoming administration to liberalise the justice system in Ogun. Udom Should Concentrate On Agriculture, Education, Infrastructure In Akwa Ibom State, the people want returning governor Udom Emmanuel to place emphasis on infrastructure, agriculture and human capital development.

Barr. Ubong John of Decastle Chambers in Eket said that infrastructure is critical to the development of the state with a population of over four million people. He, therefore, advised the governor to invest in human capital development, healthcare, education and food production through sustainable farming. Pastor James Udo of Flame of Fire Ministry in Ikot Ekpene tasked the governor in his second term to focus on providing basic and functional education in the state, especially in the area of technical and vocational development

 

On his part, Mr. Clifford Thomas of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), said: “I don’t think it is possible to solve all the problems in four years, but work should start in earnest on managing the unemployment index of youths in the state to stem the tide of cultism and other social vices For Dr. Lazarus Maigoro, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) chairman, University of Jos, (UNIJOS), both the federal and state government should continue to fund education well in the country

. According to him, education is the bedrock of any nation that wants to develop, stressing that any policy on education should be backed up with action, not just a policy statement. Mazi Anthony Eze, a Jos-based businessman who deals in building materials and Dr. Charles Onuh, who owns a private hospital in Jos, the governor should create a business-friendly environment to encourage people to venture into it. They lamented the high rate of foreign exchange in the country and urged the federal government to take drastic action against it to ameliorate the sufferings of Nigerians.

Source:  Leadershipng

Affordable Housing Gap Grows, And Available Resources Are Lacking

A new study from DePaul University’s Institute for Housing Studies shows a growing gap between the number of people in Chicago who need affordable housing, and the available supply. The report updates previous ones published by IHS, which city officials used to help develop Chicago’s current five-year housing plan.

The findings highlight concerns over whether the city has the tools or political will to bridge the affordability gap, and as Chicago’s population declines, creating new affordable housing may become even harder.  Courtesy of The Habitat Co.

The Habitat Co.’s plan for Ogden Commons on Chicago’s West Side Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot rose to the office after making promises to refocus the attention of city government on areas that many voters felt Mayor Rahm Emanuel slighted in favor of downtown development.

According to IHS, many sections of the city have lost affordable units, including North Side and Northwest Side neighborhoods that have seen influxes of higher-income renters. The data also raises the possibility that Chicago’s recent decline in population is at least partly due to lack of affordable housing, especially in economically stagnant, low-cost neighborhoods on the South and West Sides.

“This is the continuation of a long-term trend, and it’s very concerning,” IHS Deputy Director Sarah Duda said. Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau last month shows the metro area population declined by more than 22,000 in 2018, the fourth year in a row the region saw a decrease.

“This loss of population is significant, and the group most affected is the African American community,” said Charlton Hamer, senior vice president of The Habitat Co.’s affordable housing unit. “If you take a ride through the West Side or South Side, the losses are quite evident.” The new IHS report uses 2017 data, the most recent available from the American Community Survey, an ongoing effort by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Although demand for affordable units in Chicago has declined by 8.9% since 2012, the supply of affordable homes fell by 15%, according to IHS. Duda said the falloff was likely due to the declining number of two- to-four-unit rental buildings. “We know that two- to four-unit buildings serve many of the lowest-income households, so that’s a critical part of our affordable housing stock,” she said.

In 2007, buildings of this size represented 35.7% of the rental stock in Cook County, but in the 10 years following, that percentage declined to 29.5%, IHS data shows. Since 2012, the county lost 29,212 rental units in two- to four-unit buildings, a 9.8% reduction.

The decline came about for a variety of reasons, Duda said. In weak markets, including ones on Chicago’s South and West Sides, homes fell into disrepair, vacancy and then demolition. In stronger markets, many buildings that once housed multiple families were converted into single-family homes.

The very poorest residents in the region may not be the hardest hit. Since 2015, the number of households earning 30% to 50% of the area median income (between $20,521 and $34,201) that rent in Cook County dropped 28,832, an 18.2% decline. While a small number of the shrinking group may have bought homes or gotten higher-paying jobs, Duda said it is more likely they left the county.

“It’s not just an issue of rising rents in higher-income neighborhoods, it’s also that low-cost areas have suffered from disinvestment, so it’s a dual challenge, and we need to present alternatives in areas where we see rising costs, and we need better strategies to invest in low-income communities,” Duda said.

Courtesy of Evergreen Real Estate Group Oso Apartments under construction in the Albany Park neighborhood IHS defines affordable units as those that cost lower-income households earning 150% of poverty, or $37,641 annually, 30% of their monthly income — about $940 per month.

The biggest drops in affordable supply between 2012-2014 and 2015-2017 were in North and Northwest side communities, places where gentrification has become a hot-button issue. The share of such units declined 13.1 percentage points in the Portage Park/Jefferson Park neighborhood, 12 percentage points in Logan Square/Avondale, 10.9 percentage points in Irving Park/Albany Park and 10.7 percentage points in Lincoln Square/North Center.

During the same period, the city of Chicago’s overall share of affordable rental stock declined by 4.9 percentage points. Affordable units can be lost either through rental increases, conversion to non-rental housing or demolition.  Reversing that decline or even just putting a stop to the bleeding will be a huge task.

The federal government helps the city and state raise funds for the construction and preservation of affordable units by granting each tax credits, but those are given out on a per capita basis, and a declining population could further restrict their use, according to David Block, director of development at Evergreen Real Estate Group, an affordable housing developer and manager.

Evergreen, in partnership with the Chicago Housing Authority, recently broke ground on Oso Apartments, a 48-unit affordable rental community at 3435 West Montrose Ave. in Chicago’s Albany Park. The partners plan to finish the building this year, and set 32 units aside for renters on CHA’s waiting list, with the remaining 16 reserved for households earning up to 60% of the area median income.

It also just finished developing the Northtown Branch Library, at 6800 North Western Ave., and the Independence Branch Library at 4024 North Elston Ave., both collaborations with the CHA. Each will have 44 units of affordable housing for seniors opening later this year.

Block said all the projects address real needs in neighborhoods with growing demands for affordable housing, but he does not necessarily consider them a model for solving the city’s affordable housing problem. The library projects, for example, have access to many different types of financing, including tax credits and funds from the CHA, that many affordable developments do not, and senior housing usually arouses far less opposition from community groups than typical affordable housing does.

The total amount of funds earmarked for the creation of affordable housing is also insufficient. The city of Chicago supported 1,847 new, long-term affordable rental units in 2017, according to the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, and the CHA created 684 new units of public housing in 2017. Courtesy of The Habitat Co.

East Park SRO at 3300 West Maypole Ave. in East Garfield Park And even though federal, state and city subsidies sustain tens of thousands of existing affordable housing units in the region, IHS found that the gap between the supply and demand for affordable units in Cook County stood at about 180,000 in 2017, up from 176,000 in 2012. “Chicago is doing what it can with a limited set of resources, but there is never going to be enough money coming from the feds to address the affordable housing crisis,” Block said.

Hamer’s firm is also deeply involved in the preservation of existing affordable housing and the development of new units. Habitat just completed its $16M acquisition and renovation of East Park SRO at 3300 West Maypole Ave. on the city’s West Side, a project that preserved all 152 units as affordable housing.

Financing came from a wide variety of sources, including the city, Illinois Housing Development Authority and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago. Along with its CHA partner, Habitat will soon break ground on Ogden Commons, a mixed-use project on eight West Side acres. Located near Douglas Park on the former site of a now-demolished CHA development, it will eventually have 332 units, with about 80% reserved for affordable housing.

Hamer helped the city create its Five-Year Housing Plan, and agrees with Block that more needs to be done. He also believes the city has not done enough to support housing for working-class residents, as most of the existing subsidies and development programs target housing for the lowest-income groups.

The recent turnover in City Hall and City Council may present an opportunity to bring about the change needed to ensure the city can preserve affordable housing for a wider variety of residents, he said.

“There was already acknowledgement of the need for more diversity, but there just wasn’t the political clout or grassroots effort necessary to shift resources. Lori Lightfoot has also acknowledged the need for more income diversity within the city, and I hope with a new administration coming in we will see not just acknowledgement but more resources to help solve the problem.” Block is similarly waiting to see what new political leadership will (or won’t) mean. “Many of the new alderman have expressed interest in affordable housing, and that’s great, but just because there is more interest doesn’t mean there will be more money,” he said.

By Brian Rogal, Bisnow

South Africa Elections: Has the ANC Built Enough Homes?

When the ANC came to power in South Africa, in 1994, the country faced a stark housing crisis. Large parts of the black population lived in inadequate, overcrowded and informal settlements. An ambitious house-building programme has been central to ANC policy since then.

During the election campaign in 2014, the ANC promised to deliver one million homes in the next five years.So what happened and how good is its record?

How many houses has the ANC built?

The South African government says 3.2 million homes were built from 1994 to 2018.

There was a dramatic growth in construction in the early years of ANC rule (1994-1999).

But after reaching a peak in 1999, the rate of house-building has slowed, particularly over the past few years.

House Building in South Africa

The number of housing units built per year ending March from 1994 to 2018

Just under 580,000 homes were delivered during the first four years of the ANC’s current term, 2015-18.

And although data for the fifth year is not yet available, this rate of delivery falls considerably short of the promise made by the ANC at the last election.

Urgent need

The South African government estimates a current national shortfall of 2.1 million homes – for about 12.5 million people.

And it has set a target of 2030 to fill that gap.

But independent think-tank the Centre for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa (CAHF) says the backlog is massive “and annual delivery by government is clearly insufficient to meet demand”.

And at the current delivery rate – 136,000 homes per year – only 1.5 million of the 2.1 million currently needed would be available by 2030.

In the meantime, the population is growing.

How do South Africans live?

Most South Africans live in formal dwellings – 80%, according to the latest statistics, in 2017.

A further 14% live in informal housing, which are mostly squatter settlements on the periphery of cities and towns and in the gardens of formal houses.

The remaining 6% live in traditional homes in rural villages.

Analysts and government ministers say that development has failed to address the long-term effect of segregation, with a development focus on cities and not on the outskirts.

“South Africa’s cities still reflect the legacy of apartheid spatial planning, with a geography that casts the poorest communities to the periphery far from services and employment,” Nomaindiya Mfeketho, Minister of Human Settlements, said in March.

What’s the picture regionally?

The North West, followed by Gauteng province – which includes the country’s largest city, Johannesburg, and the capital, Pretoria – and the Western Cape, have the highest number of informal dwellings, approximately one-fifth.

 

The northernmost province, Limpopo, has the highest proportion of formal housing, at just over 90%.

Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal had the highest rates of house-building, according to the latest official figures, but they are also the most populous regions.

What housing South Africans live in

ProvincesInformalFormalTraditional
Western Cape1978.90.1
Eastern Cape770.422.3
Northern Cape12.6861.1
Free State1681.71.9
KwaZulu-Natal6.878.614.4
North West19.979.90.2
Gauteng19.878.50.1
Mpumalanga986.93.8
Limpopo5.591.72.7
Statistics South Africa, General Household Survey 2017
Source: BBC

What Makes Property Attractive to Buyers

Homeowners wanting to sell their property in Nigeria will be at a distinct advantage if such houses have some form of outside space, property owners whose houses are in remote areas, no matter how solid they look may not be attractive compared to buildings in the cities where population is surging like Abuja and Lagos. 

Perhaps, spurred on by the gloriously hot weather last summer or the trend for homegrown vegetables, city dwellers are looking for a patch of sun to call their own. This makes wealthy Nigerians who wants to buy homes usually look for property with enough space and back slot to create serenity that befits their social status. However, beauty they say, is in the eye of the beholder and this certainly holds sway in the world of real estate.

Homebuyers make up their minds about a property in the first few minutes. For you therefore, to sell, be sure your home makes that vital first impression. New painting does wonders. Make sure the front yard is flawless with manicured lawns and attractive foliage. Add a hanging basket or some flower pots at the door.

The front door is also critical, so make sure that the hardware is presentable. Some may prefer modern architecture and a contemporary lay-out and finish, while others may only be interested in buying period properties offering lots of charm and history. But while everyone’s preferences and tastes differ, there are a few fundamentals that one could find most buyers to compromise on, no matter what the style of home. There was a time when air-conditioning and heating were considered luxuries.

These days, developers wouldn’t dream of building an apartment or new home without some sort of climate control. Home Buyers expect older houses to have these features, too. If you are thinking of selling your home and you have an older style air-conditioner, one that makes a heck of noise and does very little cooling, it is time to upgrade.

You are not likely to have a buyer immediately, so you must meet the taste of the buyer for you to anticipate quick enquiries that would lead to instant sale.

If your house has solar panels, then buyers will be impressed. Not only has the expense already been laid out, but it means the heating bills will be much lower, which makes the property even more attractive.

Modern conveniences make a difference. Australians for instance, have penchant for great outdoors and while many of us are happy to live in apartments very few are willing to go without some kind of outdoor space.

Whether it is a small section of concreted balcony or a patch of grass outside the villa unit, people will seek out apartments with outdoor areas. Apartments in large skyrise complexes are the obvious exceptions, and that is why many of these just won’t appeal to owner occupiers or downsizing baby boomers because they don’t want to live in a hotel room-like apartments.

Buying and selling property is an expensive business and most people hope to stay in their property for a reasonable amount of time.

Don’t forget buying a home is in many ways an emotional decision, so it’s important to give buyers that warm and fuzzy feeling. Keep the temperature in the home at a comfortable level. Light some candles in the bathrooms and make sure it smells nice and clean.

Have fresh flowers around the house. A home that offers scope to build, extend or develop is attractive because it allows the buyer to modify the property to suit his changing needs. As no one wants to live in a suburb that feels like a ghost town, a property that is within short walking distance of public transport, shops, schools and cafes will tend to do very well indeed.

Buyers do not want to live on top of railway stations or shops, just close by will do. Many downsizers will tell you that they want to live among the action. That they don’t want to be out in the suburbs, and are willing to swap a large home for the teeming streets of the inner city. What they are referring to here is being close to the lifestyle attractions of the inner-city. But what they absolutely do not want is the noise.

A property that is close to the action, but without any of the accompanying noise, will always be in demand. It is not always possible to buy a house with a car space on title, but most buyers will put this pretty high up on their checklist. Where you will be at a disadvantage is if you are selling a property in a location where it is common to offer a titled car space, such as an apartment in a middle-ring suburb.

Many of these unit blocks offer titled car spaces, and a good consultant would never recommend buying an apartment without one. Not only will you be parking on the street, but you will face a real hurdle in standing out among the competition when it comes time to sell (or rent it out as an investment).

Make them feel welcome, but don’t go too far. Too much personality, for example in the form of personal possessions and family photos makes it hard for buyers to visualize living in the space. Make sure your property is clutter-free for all your viewings.

This will make your home look and feel bigger, and the buyers will be able to imagine how they could make the space their own. Make sure that there is a clean, logical flow through the home by getting rid of all excess furniture. Less is more. This is another way to make your home seem more spacious.

Open all your curtains and flood the space with natural light. Make sure the darker rooms are also lit. Invest in some light fixtures and fittings, and place them strategically to illuminate even the gloomiest of areas.


Slap on a fresh coat of paint in a neutral color to give it that blank canvas look but do not be too sterile. Have some contrast in the trim as well as the ceiling. Neutral colors make properties appear lighter and brighter, so take advantage of this inexpensive and easy option.

You may also add color with decorative window coverings, rugs, and towels. Your home should be spotless. Make sure the beds are made and the countertops are free of clutter. The dishes should be put away and nothing should be scattered on the floor. Don’t forget to tidy your garden too. Cut the shrubs back, sweep the patio, and wipe down the backyard furniture. It is easy to forget things such as broken doorknobs, cracked tiles, holes in walls and damaged but buyers will notice them first thing as they are walking around your home.

Maduka Nweke
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