Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders announced highlights of his national housing plan during a speech Saturday, emphasizing renter protections and investments in affordable housing.
Proposal would release Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from government control
The Trump administration released a sweeping plan Thursday that could remake the U.S. housing market, starting with ending more than a decade of government control of two massive companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, that back half of the nation’s mortgages.
The long-awaited plan from the Treasury Department features nearly 50 proposals, including many technical changes to financial regulations, and is aimed at shrinking the government’s role in the housing market. The cornerstone of the plan would resolve the fates of the Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, which 11 years ago this week were put into government conservatorship during the global financial crisis.
The proposals will “protect taxpayers and help Americans who want to buy a home,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. “An effective and efficient federal housing finance system will also meaningfully contribute to the continued economic growth under this administration.”
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac play a critical part in the housing market, buying mortgages from lenders, then packaging them into securities to sell to investors. The government seized control of both companies in 2008 as the housing market unraveled and the firms’ losses piled up.
The housing giants back half of the United States’ mortgages, and housing experts have warned that allowing them too much freedom again could lead to higher mortgage costs for consumers while enriching Wall Street investors.
“President Trump’s housing plan will make mortgages more expensive and harder to get. I’m urging the president: Make it easier for working people to buy or rent their homes, not harder,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac represent the last major unresolved business from the financial crisis, and Mnuchin has called them a top priority for more than two years. Under the plan, they would be turned back into private companies but would be required to pay taxpayers a fee for government protection. It would also open the market up to competitors for the first time.
While Democrats and Republicans support ending government control of the companies, several other plans have stalled in Congress. President Barack Obama’s administration shied away from the topic, fearful that a wrong move could disrupt the housing market and the availability of 30-year mortgages.
A senior Treasury Department official said that while the administration’s plan was extensive, the changes are designed to be “incremental and realistic.”
…Names Project After Ex-Gov Jakande
…More Homes To Be Delivered In Six Months, Says Commissioner
Lagos State moved steps further to solving its housing deficit with the inauguration, on Wednesday, of a newly-built Housing Estate by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
Sanwo-Olu led members of the State Executive Council to Igando, a densely populated suburb in Alimosho area of Lagos, to open the 492-flat housing project named after an elder statesman and the first civilian Governor of Lagos, Alhaji Lateef Jakande.
The project started in 2012 under the Home Ownership Scheme of the administration of ex-Governor Babatunde Fashola, but was abandoned for four years. Sanwo-Olu, upon assumption office, prioritise the completion of the housing scheme to recover the state’s resources committed to the project.
At the event, which marked the commemoration of the Governor’s 100 days in office, Sanwo-Olu said his government’s move to complete the project was a testimony to his campaign pledge to complete and deliver all critical projects inherited from the last administration.
He said: “Today, history is being made as we commission a housing estate named after an icon, a role model and the first Executive Governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande. Among his many sterling achievements, Alhaji Jakande’s indelible legacy in the provision of mass housing in Lagos still remains our guiding light.
“It is instructive to note that the completion and the official commissioning of Lateef Kayode Jakande Garden Estate in Igando today is a testimony to our resolve to deliver on the pledge to complete all critical projects inherited from the last administration.
“I am excited today because, within 100 days, this is the third time I am coming to this facility to ensure it is delivered and put into use. With the completion of the Estate, we have prevented government’s resources from being wasted.”
The Governor observed that the deficit faced by the state in housing was real, stressing that there was a compelling need for his administration to adopt a housing model that would harness limited space for delivery of safe home for the population.
He said: “One of the key strategies we will embrace is a global housing policy in which people can become home owners through an inclusive and convenient financing system based on their incomes. This policy, along with outright purchase of houses built by government, will support a sustainable system in which homes are consistently made available to a larger number of our people.”
For the State to turn around its deficit and attain 21st Century economy, the Governor said there was need to explore innovation and partnership with private investors to bridge the housing deficit. He urged the beneficiaries of the scheme to protect the facility and maintain its environmental aesthetics.
In his speech, Commissioner for Housing, Hon. Moruf Akinderu-Fatai, said the Government would deliver additional 1,250 home in different parts of the state within the next six months.
He said: “Today’s inauguration of Jakande Garden Estate is the beginning of other housing projects coming. With sense of determination and unequivocal commitment to serve the public cause, we will like to assure Lagosians that, in the next six months, we shall work hard through proper planning and judicious execution to conclude the ongoing housing schemes in Igbogbo, Sangotedo, Iponri, Gbagada and Omole. This will add a total of 1250 homes to the existing figure.”
With the stride, Akinderu-Fatai said the Sanwo-Olu administration was poised to deliver livable accommodation with modern infrastructure in line with smart city programme of the State. He reiterated that Lagos Government would continue to promote urban harmony and set new standards for property development.
The event was attended by ex-Gov. Jakande, his wife and emissaries of Oba of Lagos . Also, leaders of All Progressives Congress (APC) led by Governor’s Advisory Council Members, Prince Tajudeen Olusi, and Alhaji Mutiu Are, graced the occasion.
Modern methods of construction (MMC) have been used since World War II.
However in recent years, government has placed increasing emphasis on this as a solution to increasing development at pace.
Councils and housing associations are hesitant about this suggestion and the government recognised this in the report Building for Change, which also introduces the role of ‘integrator’.
In response, the London Housing Consortium (LHC) and the Northern Housing Consortium (NHC) have come together to launch Consortium Procurement, a ‘one-stop shop’ to help.
What is your definition of modern methods of construction?
Clive Feeney: Modern methods of construction is a definition framework created by the government, containing seven categories of modern construction services. MMC gives social housing providers and their homebuilding partners a common language that will aid collaboration and further adoption of pre-manufacturing, site-based materials and process innovations.
Tracy Harrison: There are a confusing range of build methods covered by the term but we use it to describe the use of factory-produced, pre-engineered building units or components.
What are the advantages of MMC?
CF: The method can be as much as 30% quicker than traditional construction but it’s not just about speed of the build – there are many other advantages. Factory-built homes result in less waste, not just in the build process but once occupied, and there are reduced carbon emissions and improved health and safety. Not only that, but if homes are built quicker then rented out, revenue streams are accelerated.
TH: Alongside speed of delivery, another major advantage of using MMC is the quality standard of homes that are built in factories, which is particularly relevant in the wake of the tragedy at Grenfell. With MMC, you can achieve an extremely high degree of quality control and assurance, plus the benefit of having the location of all the services logged in detail, giving confidence that any repairs and maintenance work that’s needed in the future can be done with precise information of where everything is located in the home.
Why have social landlords been hesitant to find MMC partners?
CF: Many landlords aren’t knowledgeable about MMC so lack confidence in it. Modular builds have a poor reputation and many think that innovative design may be restricted and that this could lead to repetitive, bland housing schemes, and therefore upset the surrounding community. It’s also about having confidence in the materials used and perception of quality. I have experience of working in Scotland where the industry is different and this isn’t an issue – 85% of homes are made from timber components and contain elements of offsite manufacture.
We need to be brave though and it’s an opportunity for the public sector to lead the way by collaborating to build in volume and to reduce risk. We need to be organised and be talking right from the beginning of the process. If there are early discussions between suppliers, contractors and architects about materials and design, then an innovative product can be developed and delivered.
TH: Clive’s right that customer perception is often an issue that can lead social landlords to be reluctant, particularly because of negative associations with historic, post-war prefab builds – although it’s important to point out that many of the residents of these properties absolutely love them!
NHC has organised several tours for our members at factories such as Legal & General and Ilke Homes, as well as Home Group’s inspirational Innovation Village in Gateshead, and visitors on those tours have always been surprised and impressed by the high quality of the homes.
But the main barrier members have expressed to NHC is the cost versus traditional build. Tackling this was one of the key drivers behind our partnership with LHC. We know that some of our members are interested in MMC but are only looking at a site of five new homes, for example, and this would make it prohibitive for them in terms of cost. To drive value with the manufacturers, you really need to achieve a visible ongoing pipeline of demand.
So, what we are doing is bringing members together to aggregate their volumes, and this will be when we will see the real cost benefit of MMC versus traditional build. We’ll also be able to offer a solution that works for those with significant new build plans and those who are developing on a more modest scale.
Another very real concern members have raised is around the erosion of the traditional construction skills base. However, MMC presents an exciting opportunity to develop new skills in areas such as digital design and development and, of course, there will always be a need for ongoing repairs and maintenance of properties, meaning several of the core trade skills will still be required.
How can their confidence in MMC be boosted?
CF: Again, if smaller housing associations group together with local authorities and other social landlords to pool demand it can create a large-volume project. This will give visibility of the pipeline to manufacturers who will be able to share this information with their supply chain and drive efficiencies throughout the whole process for the collective benefit of all stakeholders.
TH: Seeing is believing! A big part of boosting confidence is factory and site tours. We are also organising events and round tables to give members a chance to share best practice and start to embrace the use of MMC. We’ve been working with industry professionals who have led on large MMC projects in the North, such as Paul Beardmore [formerly director of housing at Manchester City Council], who has written a discussion paper for NHC to help to share the learning that’s been gained.
What are the issues specific to Northern England?
TH: We need more of the right homes in the right places. We’ve got a big opportunity because of the supply of brownfield land available in the North, and we’re fortunate that we have local authorities who are pro-development. However, the cost of bringing brownfield sites forward for development can be very high, often as a result of our industrial heritage and the associated land remediation costs, and our land values are often low, which presents a real conundrum.
Government policy directs support to areas of highest affordability pressure and in doing so leaves large parts of the country to deal with its own challenges. This national policy of geographically targeted support has an inadvertent impact in the North which is deemed to be ‘affordable’. This is why funds like the Affordable Homes Programme play such an important role in the North. NHC is backing the expansion of the Affordable Homes Programme to ensure it continues to support the North’s housing ambitions. We think this is critical when one in three affordable home completions supported by Homes England occur in the North, making a vital contribution to government’s overall housebuilding targets.
How can using a procurement company help MMC projects?
TH: We can help to de-risk the whole process. We have been jointly working on the procurement of an ‘offsite project integrator’ solution which will be live in early 2020. The integrator’s role and expertise is in understanding the entire process of designing a site for modular building, using experience of modular manufacturing to optimise the site and building layouts to deliver the most cost-effective solution.
The integrator will bring together the member’s brief, an architect familiar with modular and the manufacturing process, and a developer who will manage the site and install the manufactured units. We envisage that the integrator can be the main contractor, or can assign the single contract to its developer for a turnkey solution. The integrator framework will take away the uncertainty members may have by providing a complete end-to-end solution where the contracting party takes on any risk associated with the project.
CF: Using an integrated framework means pre-approved experts and professionals are engaged from the start. Initially, that might mean just making sure the right skills are in the right place at the right time but in the long term it can mean that platform-based approaches can be met. I believe the key to MMC working is collaboration and not simply to solve the issue of building at volume but also to bring in landowners, planning and financiers before the process starts.
It’s a mistake to bring people in once the process has started. Everyone needs to be on board from the start for early pre-project discussions and the advantage of doing this through procuring through a pre-tendered framework is that a client can conduct a soft market test to ensure the MMC solution broadly meets their expectations.
The History of Housing in Africa
Most countries in Africa still have housing policies and land policies that are holdover from the colonial period
• Major Housing initiatives carried out on the continent were by newly independent African Nations
• However the newly independent nations were distracted with quest for control of resources by various groups
• Development was largely ignored in the quest for political consolidation and resource control
• Where there was housing initiatives, most housing was provided for Civil Servant, often the largest pool of workers and votes!
Cross-Section of Housing Policies in Africa
Uganda : Three periods in review
The first period 1978 -1986, hampered by political instability and civil strife. Consequently,
• The 1986 saw a more stable and consistent implementation. The goals of housing policy over this period were to provide sufficient residential land and plots in urban areas and to improve access to housing infrastructure and services at affordable standards, including upgrading of slums
• 1992 was the most comprehensive period for housing policy. The National Shelter Strategy, whose overall objective was to improve housing conditions and ensure adequate shelter for all Ugandans by the year 2000.
• The policy involved the establishment of several housing programmes and projects, and the approach to implementation was an enabling and facilitating one on the part of government
Cameroon : Three Periods in Review
First phase (1950 – 1976), government Housing Policy placed emphasis on direct construction of houses by the Government with a view to improving the housing stock and strengthening measures for ensuring decent housing for civil servants and allied workers or provide housing allowance for employees.
• Second period (1977 – 2003/4), with the rapidly accelerating urbanization which was largely unplanned for, and the equally accelerating demographic growth over this period,, and drawing from the lessons and outcomes of the 1976 First United Nations Conference on Human Settlments (Habitat 1 or the Vancouver Conference)
• During this period government embarked on strengthening the institutions that underpin the provision of these services – including establishment of such bodies as the Cameroun Housing Society (SIC), the Ministry of Urban and Rural Planning (MAETUR), Credit Foncier du Cameroun (CFC) etc.
• Third period (2003/4 – Date) is devoted to reassessing the Habitat Agenda in the light of the increasing poverty during this period (40% of the population living below income poverty line) and placing more policy emphasis on Economic Growth Strategy and Employment Generation.
Three major housing policy streams or strands were identified over the past 50 years.
• The first stream was from 1982 – about 1990, during which policy focused on addressing the prevailing quantitative housing deficit in the country. Very little was achieved during this period since the political landscape was so inhospitable.
• The second stream of Nigeria National housing policy was from 1991 – 2005, a period that witnessed a very comprehensive and ambitious housing policy, the policy was noted for its decided focus and sweeping reforms on the “housing finance” sector. It sought to rejuvenate and strengthen the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) into a wholesale bank; established Primary Mortgage Institutions/Banks (PMIs) for the much wider scope and coverage of mortgage finance intermediation
• The Third policy strand (2006-Date) has focused on the use of the private sector as the fulcrum of the new policy. It seeks to stimulate large numbers of private sector real estate developers in the development of estates with houses for sale at affordable prices to low and middle income groups in the country.
• The first generation of housing policy which was focused on the:
1. ‘Turn-Key’ and Joint-Venture arrangements and encouragement of the private sector to develop rental housing;
2. More and easily available housing finance;
3. Institutional strengthening;(Human Settlements Authority (HAS), Swazi National Housing Board (SNHB), Ministry of Housing & Urban Development (MH&UD), Local Government Councils);
4. Land reform;
5. Construction methods, including use of traditional construction materials;
6. Urbanization and urban structure planning and development
• The second generation was succeeded by a New Housing Policy in the year 2000. This later policy, benefiting from the outcome of the Second United Nations
Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II).
The Housing Policy objectives were to:
1. Improve access to land with secure tenure for those households seeking to house themselves.
2. Support the development of a property market through access to finance and appropriate building and planning processes and regulations.
3. Identify and safeguard the rights of both landlords and tenants in the rental market.
4. Ensure that delivery of services is financially sustainable for the service provider and affordable to the household.
5. Use construction methods and local building materials that reduce the cost of housing and promote employment creation.
6. Use formal and informal economic activities on a plot and in the vicinity to improve household incomes and affordability standing.
What History teaches us
1. Most policies had an exclusive urban focus, and non-consideration of the rural areas.
2. Housing problems will not be solved by government throwing money at the problem
3. Housing itself is a political affairs and is susceptible to political changes
4. Government is not equipped to provide housing on its own
5. Tweaking housing policy without addressing land policy will not yield maximum results
Where we are now
UN New Urban Agenda – Habitat III
• The New Urban Agenda (NUA) was adopted at the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in Quito, Ecuador, on
20 October 2016.
• The NUA represents a shared vision for a better and more sustainable future. If well-planned and well-managed, urbanization can be a powerful tool for
sustainable development for both developing and developed countries.
• Housing and slums upgrading are considered pivot pillars of the NUA, as the agenda aims to position housing delivery at the centre of national and local
➢ As such having a paradigm shift from basically providing housing to a more structured, strategic and holistic framework for housing delivery which incorporates the objectives of achieving a sustainable and inclusive human settlements in terms of effective urban planning practice and consideration for human rights.
What does the Market look like?
The African Housing Finance Market has the following identifiers:
• Housing Finance in Africa remains critically inaccessible for most people.
• Inaccessibility is defined by high interest rates and short loan tenors that make it untenable for mortgage seekers.
• Financial Institutions, Microfinance Banks and Commercial Banks find it difficult to raise cheap funds for long-term commitments like construction.
• The sector of the economy most in need of housing finance are unbanked.
• Property rights and security which are needed for a thriving housing finance industry are sorely lacking in Africa.
• Most construction companies and developers in Africa are keen on the high- middle income housing market, leaving the low-income critically underserved
• Governments are still in the process of digitising and legitimising land records and registration.
• Government policy itself is yet to catch up with the needs for Housing Finance.
The Future of Housing: Things to Consider
Need for a Multi-Sectoral Housing Finance Strategy
• Ensuring effective Legal and Regulatory Framework
• Expanding Mortgage Finance
➢ Designing appropriate mortgage finance products
• Enhancing access to capital markets
• Need for alternative housing finance products such as medium-term non-mortgage
finance instruments, mini-mortgages, micro-finance for housing
• Enhancing affordable private rental housing
Block Chain Technology
• The current state of property agreements have a lot of moving parts and middlemen. A transaction using a smart contract is completed entirely between the buyer and the seller (or renter and landlord) and has no human interaction.
• Transactions can be done in far less time with far less chance of fraud. The seller includes all of the details of the property and the buyer puts all of their
necessary information on a 100% encrypted and secure block.
• If all property title was decentralized on the blockchain, an immense amount of time and money would be saved and, potentially, it could eliminate the
need for title insurance altogether.
• It could also be possible to add information about construction, damages and improvements to the title, almost like Carfax for homes. This will help make it so
that people truly know what they are buying.
Source: Shelter Afrique
The Lagos State Government has advised legitimate land and property owners in the state to perfect their legal documents for easy administration of justice.
The Coordinator of the Lagos State Special Taskforce on Land Grabbers, Mr Owolabi Arole, noted that untidy property documentation made it difficult for property forcefully taken to be retrieved through legal means.
Arole stated these while reviewing a report on the activities of the task force for the first and second quarters of 2019, a statement said on Sunday.
“A large chunk of the land grabbing cases the task force is working on is fraught with issues of improper and incomplete legal documentation and such issues cause delay in getting justice for rightful owners of land.
“These issues, however, have not deterred us from carrying out our mandate and getting justice for rightful owners of land from unscrupulous elements who forcibly encroach and dispossess them of their property,” he said in the statement.
Arole noted that the task force had since inauguration received over 1,300 petitions bordering on land grabbing, adding that the agency concluded 550 cases, made 35 arrests and was still working on 330 petitions.
While urging victims of land grabbers not to take the law into their own hands, the coordinator advised them to report to the state task force team which would ensure that justice was done.
He warned land thugs to desist from the illicit trade, saying the state government would bring the full weight of the law to bear on anybody caught forcibly taking another person’s property.
“When did the housing crisis start?” and “When will we know it is over?” There is no quantitative answer to the first question and therefore no answer to the second. Tenant activists cite eviction data. But that data is diffuse and inaccurate, measuring the small number of tenancies gone wrong rather than housing need. Another unrealistic measure, used by the National Low Income Housing Institute is a ratio of high cost housing to low wages, a measure intended to generate alarm and more subsidies, not solutions. We need a real measure of the problem, and there are examples illustrate the challenge, but in the end, the best measure is price.
The official measure of housing affordability in the United States remains the normative standard that no household should pay more than 30 percent of its gross monthly household income on housing. But what happens when a family is paying 25 percent of its income toward housing but still can’t always come up with rent because of other costs? Does this mean a household paying less for housing is taking someone else’s unit something called “down renting,” and should be paying more somewhere else?
The Housing Cost Income Ratio (HCIR) is a strange and arbitrary measure rooted in the notion that housing should cost no more than a week’s wages, or about 25 percent of gross household income. How was that number set? It has its roots in 19thEuropean social safety net programs and was boosted 40 years ago to 30 percent without much study. Before I suggest an alternative, let’s look at some other efforts to challenge other key economic measures like recession and poverty.
An example I frequently use as an accepted measure of an economic problem is the measure of recession, generally defined as two quarters of negative growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Not everyone likes this definition, especially many antipoverty advocates on the left. At the official end of the last recession in 2009, the Center for Social Inclusion (CSI) created an “impact index” as an alternative measure because,
GDP does not tell us about the difficulty of finding a job, who has health insurance, where the subprime crisis tore neighborhoods apart, or who was best-positioned to weather an economic storm.”
The impact index included measures for housing (affordability, foreclosures, vacancies, subprime lending and building permits), health, measured in terms of insurance coverage, jobs (wages, employment, income sustainability), and a measure they call, civics, a measure including poverty, gross domestic product, and state fiscal health.
I’m not sure I agree with this measure, but what allows for them to diverge from the standard indicator is that a quantitative measure – two quarters of negative GDP – exists in the first place. The CSI measure using other existing measures to give more dimension to the sense that just because GDP figures are up, suffering doesn’t end; it’s more than just anecdotes or finger-on-the-scale reports offered by the National Low Income Housing Institute or the Eviction Lab.
Another example of a measure being refined is the federal government’s official poverty measure developed in the 1960s, a measure of the income needed to buy a “market basket” of consumer products. Most agree the old poverty measure is woefully outdated. Benefits that are supposed to be based on being below the poverty line end up sliding further up the scale (200 percent of the poverty level, for example) to account for the sense that being above the poverty line doesn’t mean a family isn’t poor. The government developed a Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) that includes variables for family size, composition, geography, and housing costs. Again, we can argue about whether the SPM is better because there was a measure of what poverty means in the first place.
In the United Kingdom, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has created something called the Minimum Income Standard (MIS). The JRF explains that the “MIS itself is not a measure of poverty, but is what the public has told us is sufficient income to afford a minimum acceptable standard of living.” The point is why try to measure poverty when the problem is income? Prices change based on supply and demand and so do wages; the question is what do people need to sustain what JRF calls an “acceptable minimum standard of living,” something with both quantitative and qualitative elements.
Finally, let’s return to an idea for an alternative to the Housing Cost Income Ratio (HCIR) measure of housing affordability, the Residual Income Model (RIM), a measure based on how much money a family has left over after they pay housing costs. As I pointed out, the HCIR creates more troublesome questions that it resolves while RIM hinges on other costs: If a household pays half its income on housing but can adequately cover other costs there isn’t a problem. Think of a recent college graduate with a monthly income of $1600 living in a small apartment that rents for $800; if she can still cover her other costs and have $50 left over is she in need of a subsidy? Probably not, but the HCIR would dictate she would qualify.
On the other hand a household with two incomes earning twice that amount, $3200 with the same housing costs, $800 or 25 percent of its income would, under HCIR, be doing just fine. The system tries to cure this problem by imposing a cap of 60 percent of Area Medium Income (AMI) so that the larger household with lower relative income could still be eligible for benefits. But the HCIR system doesn’t account for costs other than housing and it calculates eligibility on gross income, income before taxes and other amounts are withheld from paychecks.
All of this together indicates that measures of economic disutility we currently have and even efforts to revise them are inexact at best; declaring a recession over when people still can’t find a job, finding a family just over the poverty line but still struggling for survival, and calculating housing need based on ratios of income to price. How then do we find a way to talk about housing as it relates to growth and the prevailing sense that there is a crisis?
The answer is looking at household income. Looking at residual income and minimum income is a start. I’ve argued in favor here of what Milton Friedman called a negative income tax, a form of guaranteed basic income. But we need a ratio revolution. Affordability is a qualitative measure, not a quantitative one. That is, some people feel a thing is too expensive and others see the utility value of that same thing as worth the price. The Rowntree Foundation is on to something with its measure of a broadly and democratically defined acceptable standard of living, and this could be a guide for a basic income scheme. But the focus should be on income, not a normative ratio of average ranges of income to average price of housing.
If we want to solve housing price problems we shouldn’t use measures that are so inadequate and just measure pain retrospetively; there will always be misdistribution in every economic system and we usually only understand that after it has happened. Instead we should concentrate on an abundance of housing to begin with and income options that would ensure enough supply that when a family is unhappy they have flexibility to make a change. We shouldn’t be trying to measure pain, but trying to avoid as much pain as possible.
Why has the multiple housing initiatives implemented by Nigeria over the years failed to be of any significant impact to the country’s humongous housing needs? A lot of people blame it on corruption, others blame it on bad policies, and they are both right. As a matter of fact, the two influences each other.
A housing policy that is not well thought out and measured to satisfy the needs of the majority who needs those houses wouldn’t achieve much. A lot of experts in the housing policy sector believe that most housing projects in Nigeria over decades have only served the need of the minority rich, in disregard of the majority poor. That is where the problem lies.
Majority of Nigeria’s 200 million people live in urban slums and unfit houses, while the rich occupy overpriced estates in a few cities. While the equation presents a recipe for social disaster, the political elite do not feel the urgent need to turn things around for the better.
It has become increasingly important for the government, both at the federal and state levels to strengthen housing and urban development policies to accommodate households’ social demographic characteristics.
A lot of stakeholders have expressed concerns over the present approach and policy, which allowed unfettered market forces in determining housing consumption. Some have also warned that the policy would not achieve the desired results of access to decent, safe and affordable housing for all Nigerians.
The call is for the introduction of more social housing schemes like Family Homes Funds to take care of the needy that cannot take care of their housing needs on their own. The social housing scheme must be vigorously pursued for the sake of the vulnerable that are majority in the country.
The first tenure of Babatunde Raji Fashola saw him undertake a pilot National Housing Programme which led to a nationwide housing construction in various states of the federation. According to the minister, while giving account of his service mentioned that construction works at these project sites are an ecosystem of human enterprise where artisans, vendors, suppliers and craftsmen are direct beneficiaries as well as contributors to nation building.
It is therefore important that unlike previous housing programmes in Nigeria, this one should not be abandoned, but reinvigorated and adapted to prevailing challenges in a way that more results can be achieved and more houses built for the poor who needs them the most. According to Housing Development Advocacy Network, the projects that are ongoing should be completed and new ones initiated, and must be affordable for those that genuinely need the houses.
President Buhari has frequently spoken about his passion for the poor, and many believe that the greatest way to show this, especially under the Next Level government is to address one of the most important, yet near impossible needs of the poor masses – housing.
There is high expectation for the government and the minister of works and housing to implement policies and projects that will enable the construction of mass affordable housing for the poorest majority in the country. Only this can trigger the most revolutionary growth needed in the country’s economic sector, which will in turn attract local and foreign investments.
Real estate stakeholders say there is an urgent need for paradigm shift to resolve the challenges of affordability mismatch resulting in unsold and unoccupied developed houses, especially in major cities.
According to them, the paradigm shift should be a review of dynamics from market-driven pricing system to end user-driven pricing to ensure that houses are provided for those who need and can afford them.
The call for the review of systems was part of the resolutions reached at the 13th Abuja International Housing Show, and had been presented to the government and its several housing agencies for implementation, according to the organisers.
The documented resolutions, a copy of which was obtained by The PUNCH, also included a call for the creation of enabling policies around land title documentations, with government playing a larger role in assisting investors and supporting local building industries and materials.
Stakeholders also demanded a fast track of the passage of foreclosure bill into law to legally resolve default issues in the sector.
They called for the review of Land Use Act, the Federal Government Housing Loans Board bill, the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria bill and the National Housing Fund bill.
They said there was a need for the Federal Government to advance the ongoing partnership between the Mortgage Banking Association of Nigeria and the Central Bank of Nigeria with regard to the underwriting standards which could increase housing and mortgage affordability for the masses.
Among other resolutions, they called for the adoption of high impact training that would support research and data generation by major stakeholders within the industry and building the right skill ecosystem through job-driven training programmes spearheaded by private sector industry participation for adoption of trainees.
They also called for the institutionalisation of collaboration and partnerships between large-scale industry players to enhance mass housing provision and affordability.
They equally called for the creation of standard data base in African countries especially in Nigeria that could be universally accepted to collate data, identify data gaps, integrate, optimise and expand knowledge set to meet current demands.