We are committed to production of quality Ceramic tiles says CDK boss

CDK Integrated Industries Limited, producers o[ authentic porcelain tiles and ceramic sanitary ware has restated its commitment to production of export quality.

Speaking during the pre- AGM dinner of Association of Consulting Architects Nigeria. ACAN in Lagos, Chief Executive Officer of CDK, Bernard Longe, said that it has always been the specific objective of the promoters from conception that the company differentiates itself from the competition by producing porcelain tiles and sanitary ware of export quality.

According to him, “CDK is aware that a few unscrupulous local producers are producing ceramic white body tiles but am mislabelling same on their packaging and passing them off as ‘Porcelain’. Although there are commonalities in the body materials and manufacturing process of ceramic and porcelain tiles, porcelain tiles are more expensive to manufacture than ceramic tiles and are therefore priced much higher than ceramic tiles”. He enumerated some of the advantages of porcelain tiles over ceramic tiles to include suitable for external use and high traffic areas, more resistant to cracks or failure when not installed over solid concrete floor.

“CDK tile and sanitary ware manufacturing processes are fully automated using state of art machinery  complemented by highly experienced and committed production team. The company has fully digital printers, which means that in addition to CDK’s own regular models and designs, it can produce any customized designs of customer’s choice as well as modifying tile attributes to address specific needs.

“The CDK factory is located on 50 hectares of land in Sagamu. Ogun State just after the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway Interchange and that the size of the property acquired is a pointer to the future aspirations of CDK not only to expand production of Its present t product lines but to also venture into local production of related products such as bathroom and kitchen faucets all of which are presently I imported.

In his response, President of ACAN, Air Mansur Ahmadu. commended CDK Integrated Industries Limited for their investment in the tile and sanitary wares industry in Nigeria: “As architects, it is always good that we are furnished with relevant information that enables us make the best decision as protect managers and the information that CDK is sharing about the world class quality of their “Made-in- Nigeria’ porcelain tiles and sanitary wares.

Source:  Gabriel Olawale

 

Expert: Here is the housing industry’s biggest tech need

 

The housing industry is missing key technology that could make the process more smooth and understandable – a missing part that one expert explained would not be accepted in any other industry.

One of the biggest changes to this year’s award is the addition of our editorial advisory committee. This year, for the first time ever, nominees will be reviewed by an advisory committee, made up of some of the best minds in the housing industry. This committee will then advise HousingWire’s internal award review board of potential finalists before the winners are selected.

But now, members of that committee have come together to inform HW readers on some of the biggest issues in tech today. HousingWire interviewed SparkTank Media founder and CEO Jeff Lobb, who talked about some of housing’s biggest issues – including where the most prominent need lies for tech.

Here is the first part, with more questions and answers to follow in the weeks leading up to the end of the Tech100 nomination period:

HousingWire: What areas of housing market are in highest need for technology innovation?

Jeff Lobb: I think the biggest need right now for a technological innovation is in the transaction. The process that takes a buyer or seller from an accepted offer to an executed agreement to the closing table.

Buying or selling a home is already a complicated and stressful situation for so many folks. Much of the process is overwhelming and fractured. Different attorneys or title companies process one way, a mortgage company another way, there’s very little that’s streamlined or systemized. Then, try pulling all the moving parts together from inspections to appraisals to mortgage stipulations all while the communication and documents funnel through different channels.

The client – the end user – is completely confused and ultimately stressed out. The process is so intimidating for some homeowners that I have heard them say “I am not even sure what I am signing at this point, but I just want it done so we can move in.” Imagine that process happening in other industries.

What if the pilot of an airline was so confused about the process that they simply said, “I don’t really care about the details at this point, I just hope the plane can fly”?

Or for those who are coffee fans – what if you walked into your local Starbucks or coffee shop and said, “I can’t even figure out how to pronounce what’s on the menu board. Just pick one, pour it in a cup; I just need to get to work.”

While we cannot compare the housing process to an airline pilot or a cup of coffee, what we can compare is the end user experience. If the experience is stressful and overwhelming for the end user, it needs to be simplified and systemized.

HW: How do you think technology improves the housing economy and homeownership experience?

JL: Technology improves the housing economy and homeownership experience by providing “convenience” with smart devices. Convenience through smart technology and smart devices empowers the homeowner with on demand information and comfort.

From Digital assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant, to having thermostats and garage doors controlled by an iPhone, to the technology that allows smart locks to open with a remote device or with a user’s thumbprint, smart tech adds a level of convenience we have never had before.

The ability to get answers immediately, by shouting at an inanimate object on the counter, monitor their home from an app or the ability to check on children or pets from a mobile device allows a user to design an experience with in-home technology that provides safety, security and ultimate convenience to a homeowner.

Source: Housingwire

Single-family home construction tumbles – and a top analyst says housing is in a correction

  • Single-family housing starts fell more than 13 percent last month from a year earlier, according to the U.S. Census. Building permits, an indicator of future construction were down nearly 2 percent.
  • This followed a sharp drop in homebuilder sentiment to the lowest level in more than three years, according to the National Association of Home Builders.
  • “I definitely think we’re in a correction,” said John Burns, CEO of John Burns Real Estate Consulting. “Sales, according to our survey last month, were down 19 percent year over year. … I would call that a correction.”
Each new housing data point is worse than the last, and they are prompting a leading industry analyst to say the market is in a correction.
Single-family housing starts fell more than 13 percent last month from a year earlier, according to the U.S. Census. Building permits, an indicator of future construction, were down nearly 2 percent.
This followed a sharp drop in homebuilder sentiment to the lowest level in more than three years, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

“I definitely think we’re in a correction,” said John Burns, CEO of John Burns Real Estate Consulting. “Sales, according to our survey last month, were down 19 percent year over year. … I would call that a correction.”

Burns points to higher mortgage rates, along with the surge in home prices over the last few years, as the culprit. Mortgage rates are a full percentage point higher now than a year ago. Half of Americans can only afford a $230,000 mortgage, according to Burns, and the builders in good locations just can’t build at that price. Eleven of the top 19 builders have an average sales price above $400,000.

“The rise in mortgage rates has really been a double whammy for them,” Burns said. “A lot of the focus has been on the first-time buyer who now can afford 7 percent less than they could at the beginning of the year just due to mortgage rates and home prices even worse than that.”

Builders cannot hit the lower prices because of higher costs for land, labor and materials. While they might be able to build cheaper homes farther outside major metropolitan areas, doing so is risky, given that demand there is so weak.

“As long as builders remain concerned about buyer demand, single-family starts are likely to decline as builders adjust production accordingly,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor.com. “Rising home prices and mortgage rates have created high hurdles for homebuyers, while cost increases have made it difficult for builders to deliver homes at the most in-demand price points.”

Strong demand for rentals

Multifamily housing starts, meanwhile, surged 20 percent last month compared with November 2017. While this monthly reading tends to be volatile, it indicates that the rental market will remain strong for the foreseeable future.

“Bottom line, the single-family figures confirm again the slowdown in the pace of transactions while multifamily reflects the still solid demand for rentals,” said Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group.

Adding to the frustration in the housing market is a stagnation among sellers. While supply is rising slowly because sales are slowing, there are still few new listings coming onto the market. Current homeowners either can’t afford a new home or don’t want to pay a higher mortgage interest rate on a new home. This is hitting homebuilders as well.

“A lot of them build move-up homes, and we think about a quarter of move-up demand is just not going to move because people have a 3.5 percent fixed-rate mortgage, and that’s a painful thing to give up,” Burns said.

The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage is hovering around 5 percent.

While homebuilders are still not ramping up entry-level supply, they are starting to cut prices.

A new survey from the NAHB, which has yet to be released, found 41 percent of builders reported reducing prices as a sales incentive for July through October, up from 26 percent a year earlier.

Source: Diana Olick

Stakeholders applauds FMBN on the development of NHF Mobile APP

In order to improve the management and administration of National Housing Fund contributions, the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) will tomorrow launch the National Housing Fund Mobile and Internet Platforms, at the International Conference Centre (ICC), Abuja.

The NHF Mobile and Internet platform is a multi-channel, contributor centric solution developed by the bank to improve transparency and accountability. The Platform among others will allow contributors check their contribution balances, receive sms alerts and account statements, update contact details and retrieve NHF numbers.

Speaking on the development, the President of Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN) Rev Ugochukwu Chime described it as a phenomenal development and a plus for contributors to the National Housing Fund.

He said ‘’Hitherto, people have been finding it difficult to know about their contribution to the NHF, now it is possible for someone to know that by the click of a hand from his smart phone, he can know his balance status and everything, that takes it to the next level and makes it possible for them to serve a greater number of Nigerians.

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‘’By this singular act FMBN has now keyed in the direction of the banking, globally, that will increase the viability of the enterprise, and increase access of people to them’’. He said.

According to Chime, the innovation will even encourage unbanked people in rural areas to key into the Fund.

‘’People in rural areas who do not have a bank around them but have a phone can also key in and become a contributor or even take a mortgage from anywhere in the 774 local governments Nigeria’’.

He further applauded the innovation and pledged the support of REDAN for FMBN. ‘’I really want to appreciate them for this innovation they have brought, and I assure them that REDAN, who are building houses across the whole country are determined to key into it and work with them, it is also what we are doing to enable contributors know who the developers are, and where the houses are located’’.

‘’REDAN has keyed into it and we will work in concert with the FMBN to unlock the potentials in the affordable housing sector’’ he concluded.

To throw his weight behind the development, the President, Mortgage Banking Association of Nigeria (MBAN) Mr Adeniyi Akinlusi, noted that ‘’It is a step forward in the NHF Scheme, this is a step that should have been taken over 25 years ago, and now that we are taking it, we should salute the current management of FMBN, we might not be getting everything right, but we are getting somethings right, and this is a strategic step towards enhancing access to NHF and also making the contributors confident in the scheme’’

Speaking further he said ‘’For us in MBAN, we are in full support, and this is part of what we have been discussing in our technical policy meetings, that we need to make Nigerians believe in NHF so that we can deliver on our mandate of providing affordable housing’’.

Also speaking in support of the NHF Mobile App, the Chief Executive Officer, Mortgage Warehouse Funding Limited, Mr Sonnie Ayere, said

‘’It is a fantastic development, because it now makes it easier for people to contribute their fund, it will help their collections for people in the informal sector, because the formal sector will normally be deducted from salary earnings, but for the informal sector who are not necessarily salary based, but also want to contribute, it is a fantastic initiative for them’’.

The President Housing Development Advocacy Network, Mr Festus Adebayo, while commending the introduction of the NHF Mobile and Internet platform by FMBN, said ‘’the new management of FMBN have written their names in gold, by the time the story of FMBN is written their name will appear conspicuously as those who brought transparency and innovation to NHF’’.

He further called on other service oriented housing related agencies to emulate the giant strides of FMBN, and added that the innovation will encourage States who are yet to fully embrace the NHF to join the scheme.

‘’There is no doubt that this new gesture of FMBN, can be used to attract those states who have not been contributing to the fund’ ’He declared.

Affa Dickson Acho

 

Why many completed houses remain unoccupied

The Registrar of Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria (ESVARBON), Ifeanyi Uzowanne, has attributed the large number of vacant houses across the country to the fact that most developers of the properties failed to consider market demands.

Uzowanne disclosed this while speaking on the sidelines of the 2018 Estate Surveyors and Valuers Assembly held recently in Abuja, which also culminated in the launching  of the Nigerian Valuation Standards (known as Green Book) to standardize, align and boost the quality of valuations for financial reporting purposes.

Uzowanne said there were many completed but unoccupied houses in virtually all states in Nigeria because the cost of most of the vacant buildings was far beyond the purchasing power of many Nigerians.

He said, “Why are these houses unoccupied? Is it because they are built without reference to what the market wants or that the rents are exorbitant?

“As the regulatory body of a profession that has to do with housing, we are concerned and that is why we say people should go to practitioners when they are making investments in housing so that they can put up houses that will meet the needs of consumers.”

The registrar added, “Most products are made based on what the market wants. When the people want two bedroom apartments and you give them duplexes, you are not building to what they need; if you build duplexes you are not meeting the needs of the people.”

He explained that the valuation standard unveiled by ESVARBON would help both dealers and consumers of properties in that regard.

“The standards that we’ve unveiled will help address this issue in a way, because most times it is not only estate valuers who produce houses. So the public is also expected to make sure that they don’t overprice properties and keep it out of the reach of some others who want it,” Uzowanne said.

Also speaking on the Green Book, the immediate past chairman of the Nigerian Institute of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), Abuja chapter, Adamu Kasimu, said the objective was in keeping up with global best practices in the real estate valuation industry.

He said the Green Book incorporates Professional Standards (PS) and Valuation Practice Statements (VPS) that all members providing a written valuation would be required to comply with and also sets out procedural rules and guidance for valuers, covering matters not only relating to ethics and conduct, but also establish a framework for uniformity and best practice in the execution and delivery of valuations.

“The Green Book dictates the manner in which every estate surveyor and valuer should behave – meaning the valuation of all professionals should tally in terms of form, context and reliability.

Source: Daniel Adugbo

Housing Deficit:Fashola calls for data on unoccupied houses

The federal government has urged experts in the built industry to exhibit the spirit of sacrifice and professionalism in their services as government continues to provide critical infrastructure.

Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola stated when he received members of the Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria (ESVARBON) on courtesy call in Abuja.

Fashola said government would encourage members to create a baseline data for all empty houses with information for sale or rental value, adding that those empty houses can be livable.He also commended board’s sense of purpose, leading to several achievements within one year of its inauguration.

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He stressed that this would help to eliminate quackery in the system.

Earlier, Chairman of the Board, Sir Nweke Umezuruike, had invited minister to attend the launch of the Green Book ‘The Nigeria Valuation Standards’ soon to be unveiled in Abuja.

He explained that within the year, the Board has made some remarkable strides in the improved Adhesive Stamps, the publication of the Green Book amongst others.

Umezuruike also sought the Minister’s assistance for office accommodation and prompt composition of the Board membership/replacements as are necessary.

Meanwhile, Fashola has raised concerns over the increasing number of unoccupied buildings across city centres ascertaining that the 17million-housing deficit is incorrect.

The Minister, who spoke at the launch of the Nigeria Valuation Standards pointed out that the increasing numbers of vacant houses littering city centres are not being factored into the computation of Nigeria’s housing deficit.

Represented by a board member Temitope Onaeko, the minister said “there so many vacant houses across major city of Nigeria, but we have not being putting all this factors into the computation of housing shortage in the country, we just give figures, like 17million housing deficit without considering all the vacant houses.”

He tasked the board to embark on data collection across the country so as to be able to ascertain the actual figure of housing deficit in the country, so as to aid planning.

FMBN flags off construction of 200 housing units in Katsina

The federal government through the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) in collaboration with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and other affiliated unions in Nigeria Saturday flagged off the construction of 200 housing units in Katsina State.

This was even as FMBN said it has committed N1.9 billion through its Estate Development Loan (EDL) to construct 492 housing units situated in estates across the state through selected developers.

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The 200 housing unit project is part of federal government’s effort at providing affordable houses to its workforce across the country via the National Affordable Housing Delivery Programme (NAHDEP).

Speaking at the ground breaking ceremony at Kambarwa, in Batagarawa Local Government Area of the state, the Managing Director of FMBN Ahmed Dangiwa said the houses when completed would be in the selling range of between N3.1 million to N8.3 million.

According to Dangiwa, “The housing units would be in the mix of three, two, one bedroom semi-detached bungalows and block of flats that can assuage the sufferings of the beneficiaries.

“The Katsina project is the first phase of the NAHDEP which is to be run as a pilot to deliver 1,400 housing units across the six geopolitical zones in the country.”

Dangiwa reiterated that each zone would have 200 houses with 100 units in two selected states, adding that Katsina is one of the benefiting states due to its tremendous contributions to the National Housing Fund (NHF).

On his part, the state Governor Aminu Bello Masari said the state in collaboration with stakeholders, constructed 500 housing units in line with the culture and religion of people in the state.

“We are also planning to construct hundreds of housing units in seven old local governments of the state,” he said.

The event climaxed with the distribution of N266.5 million cheques to 318 beneficiaries under the FMBN Home Renovation Loan.

How Buhari got N260,000 bank loan to build first house as Head of State

…Buhari remains selfless, contented despite passage of time-Aliyu Musa

…Buhari should distance himself from cabal, nepotic elements-Junaid Mohammed

Details of how President Muhammadu Buhari applied and got bank loan of N260, 000 to build his first and only house in Kaduna, have emerged, with some Nigerians questioning whether his Spartan life of 1984 when he served as head of state is still the same as the current Nigeria’s president.

The bank document, which Saturday Vanguard got exclusively, shows clearly that Buhari had resorted to taking a bank loan to be able to build his first house in Kaduna, having not been able to raise enough cash for such a project through all other means.


President Buhari After applying for the cash, which came with interest, Buhari, a Major General in the army at the time, accepted all the terms and conditions imposed by Union Bank, which provided the N260,000 loan to him and laid out the conditions attached to the offer.
In the loan document dated June 1, 1984, and addressed to Major General Muhammadu Buhari, Head of State and Commander-in-Chief, Dodan Barracks, Lagos, the bank made it clear that the loan was approved for the building of his house.

The letter signed by one M. D. Yusif, who was the manager of Union Bank at the time, the bank said: “Dear sir, we are pleased to advise that the bank has agreed to renew your facility as follows: Building Loan-N260,000, has been marked for review on the 2nd of March 1985 but in accordance with the normal banking practice; it is repayable on demand and subject to review or withdrawal at any time the bank’s option.

“Interest will be charged for the time being, at the rate of 11 percent per annum with monthly rents. Commission on turnover will be charged at 20 percent.
“The facility has been renewed subject to the following conditions: All the security items have been holding before now continue to support this lending and ordinary account should be kept strictly on creditor’s basis while loan outstands.

“Kindly signify your acceptance of the terms and conditions of the renewal by signing and returning the duplicate copy of this letter,” M. D. Yufif, said.

But as it appeared that Major Gen. Buhair was desperately in need of the loan, he quickly signed and returned the letter to Union Bank, which immediately released the cash to him for the building project in Kaduna.

 


Although this gesture has given out Buhari as a man of Spartan nature, many Nigerians are unconvinced if he would have take the loan today, given that he has made a lot of money from being the president of Nigeria for almost four years and surrounding himself with people who are said to be money-conscious and ready to do anything to get rich quick.

However, those who claim to know Buhari very well, praised him for his Spartan nature, saying he remains the same man that he was many years ago despite presiding over billions of Nigeria’s cash.

A Kaduna-based politician, Aliyu Musa, who claims to have know Buhari from childhood, told Saturday Vanguard in Kaduna on Friday that Buhari remains incorruptible despite all the posts he has held and the passage of time given his austere background and fear of God not to dip his hands into public till.

“We, who are Buhari’s friends, are proud of him and we will continue to vouch for him as an honest, contented and sincere leader who is not driven by ill-gotten wealth and that is why he went for commercial bank loan to build his first house instead of looting the public treasury as most leaders would have done.

“We know that despite being Nigeria’s president at a time when everybody wants to steal and enrich themselves, Buhari will remain steadfast to his creed not to steal a kobo from the peoples treasury,” Musa stated.

But second republic lawmaker, Junaid Mohammed, told Saturday Vanguard that Buhari might not be corrupt by taking money from the public till but has thrown himself into the ring by surrounding himself with questionable elements, who do not believe in his anti-corruption war.

Nigeria must assist EOWASC— Buhari “We want Buhari to do away with nepotism and retainership of a cabal that does not work in the interest of Nigeria because corruption extends beyond stealing public funds to conferring undue advantage on a particular set of people and tribe at the expense of other groups,” Junaid said.

Source: Soni Daniel

Homeless Rate in U.S. Down 13 Percent Since 2010 Market Crash


Rent Affordability Now a Growing Concern in Many U.S. Cities
Zillow is reporting this week that rising residential rents across the U.S. are burdening financially limited renters, and contributing to higher rates of homelessness in many of the nation’s least affordable housing markets. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that 553,752 people nationwide experienced homelessness in 2017, based on a point-in-time count in January. Since 2010, the counted homeless population has fallen by about 13 percent.

However, prior research shows these counts are imprecise, and likely do not include the entire homeless population in the country. The actual number of people who were homeless is estimated to be closer to 661,000, or 21 percent higher than the officially reported population.

New research from Zillow, in collaboration with researchers at the University of New Hampshire, Boston University School of Social Work and University of Pennsylvania, shows that the homelessness rate accelerates much more quickly when the rent burden climbs above 32 percent. The research also identified distinct groups of communities respond similarly to changing rents and poverty levels, among other latent factors – all of this information can help policymakers and social-service organizations in otherwise disparate areas hone in on the most effective mitigation efforts by learning from the experiences of other areas in their peer group. This new research expands on Zillow research last year that examined the relationship between rising rents and homelessness.

Zillow Report Highlights Include:

  • If the rent burden increases by 2 percentage points, an additional 1,500 Americans will become homeless
  • An estimated 661,000 people were homeless in 2017, more than 100,000 more than were officially reported.
  • The expected homelessness rate in a community increases at an accelerated pace after rents reach 32 percent of the local median income.
  • The rent burden exceeds this 32 percent tipping point in about one-quarter of the regions analyzed.

Zillow further reports about 1,500 more people nationwide can be expected to experience homelessness when the rent burden increases by 2 percentage points. The effects of a larger rent burden are more extreme in already unaffordable areas where rent burdens are beyond the 32 percent tipping point. In Los Angeles, that 2-percentage point increase could force an additional 4,227 people into homelessness. In other communities, homelessness is predicted to decline despite increasing rent burdens.

Nationwide, a renter earning the median U.S. income and looking to rent the median-priced apartment should expect to spend about 28 percent of their income on rent, up from historic norms closer to 26 percent. But across the country, the rent burden already exceeds the 32 percent threshold in 100 of the 386 Continuums of Care included in this analysis, led by Monroe County in Florida, where the median market rate rent consumes 62.9 percent of the area’s median household income. Also on this list are Los Angeles (49 percent), Portland, Oregon (36.7 percent), and Seattle (34.2 percent), all of which have declared a homelessness “state of emergency.”

All of these areas fall into the same group of communities defined by high rates of homelessness, unaffordable housing and high rates of extreme poverty. This cluster is home to 15.1 percent of the total U.S. population, but 47.3 percent of the nation’s homeless population as officially reported by the 2017 HUD point-in-time count.

Conversely, a separate cluster, which includes areas like Pittsburgh and Cook County, Illinois, is characterized by a low homelessness rate, affordable housing, and the lowest rates of extreme property. This does not mean homelessness doesn’t exist in these areas, only that housing costs and low income play a smaller part in defining the challenge in these communities, and unobserved factors may be playing a bigger role.

“It’s undoubtedly good news that the overall level of homelessness has fallen nationwide, even as housing costs have increased. But that zoomed-out view obscures some very real, local tensions between housing affordability and homelessness, and ignores the reality that success in tackling homelessness in one community doesn’t necessarily have the same effect in another,” said Skylar Olsen, Zillow Director of Economic Research and Outreach. “This first-of-its-kind research both quantifies the true scale of the problem and reinforces the idea that every community has its own unique challenges. But there are similarities that can be identified, even among communities of wildly varying sizes and locations, and learning to be shared. The homelessness challenge itself is hugely multifaceted and nuanced from community to community, and requires local and national solutions that are equally flexible, nuanced and informed.”
Source: Michael Gerrity

Should homeless people be expected to live in a box?

Single people in need of a home are the least likely to be prioritised by local authorities. But could one-person micro-homes be an answer – or is expecting people to live in a box, and be grateful about it, a step too far?

Nearly a quarter of a million single people have experienced homelessness in the past 12 months.

These include the most visible sector of homeless people, the rough sleepers; as well as those living in temporary accommodation, like shelters or hostels, provided by the voluntary homelessness sector. Then we have the “hidden homeless” who stay on the floor of friends and family, the “sofa surfers” and the squatters.

Perhaps communities of micro-homes such as one recently granted planning permission in Worcester – where each unit has a floor space of just 17.25 sq metres – could offer a solution.

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According to the British Property Federation, micro-homes can be defined as “not conforming to current minimum space standards”.

But the charity Homeless Link says “the main aspiration of people who are homeless is to have a home of their own”.

So should we start to think inside the box?

Accommodating single people in small spaces is not new – shipping containers have been used to house homeless people for decades. But shipping containers are not purpose-built, are often cold, poorly ventilated and – crucially – are storage crates, not homes.

Benjamin Clayton, head of strategy at Homes England, the government’s “housing accelerator” and formerly a fellow at Harvard University, says micro-homes are “clearly not the solution to the housing crisis, but they might be a handy resource in the meantime.

“Tiny houses could be particularly helpful in getting homeless people into safety. Housing charity Crisis estimates that the cost of a single homeless person sleeping rough in the UK is £20,128 per year, which is depressing money down the drain.”

It makes financial sense to help homeless people, or, ideally, prevent their plight in the first place.

In an illustrative report At what cost? commissioned by Crisis, that annual price tag of £20,128 includes interaction with the criminal justice system (about £7,000), visits to A&E and stays in hospital (about £8,000), and support from homelessness agencies.

And that’s before the human cost. Lacking a settled home can cause or increase social isolation, create barriers to education, training and paid work and undermine mental and physical health.

Mr Clayton suggests Britain should experiment along the lines of some communities in the US, where charitable groups have supplied micro-homes to help homeless people.

“Around 8,000 people slept rough on the streets of London in 2016-17, a number which has doubled since 2010,” Mr Clayton says.

“Surely units in homelessness hotspots in London, Manchester, Birmingham and elsewhere could provide a real, albeit temporary, alternative.

“Of course Britain needs more and better real houses. In the meantime, though, we should take tiny houses seriously, especially for those who have no house at all.”

Not everybody is happy with the idea though.

One of the newest developments to receive planning permission is a set of 16 iKozie units, which will be erected in Worcester some time next year. The original plans for the site were more ambitious, but vigorous opposition from residents worried about infrastructure, parking and antisocial behaviour led to the proposal for 30 units being trimmed down to 16.

Objections lodged with the council ranged from allegations that the iKozie residents would not be in paid employment and therefore a drain on the public purse, to concerns about space for charging points for hypothetical electric cars in the future.

Of the 16 units, five will be in the control of the city council’s housing department, and it would be up to the council to decide who on the housing list should be allocated a unit.

Single adults with no children or specific vulnerabilities tend to fall between the cracks when it comes to finding them somewhere to live. There will always be someone considered a higher priority.

But these homes for one, loosely based on the cabin of a luxury yacht, could fill a gap.

Each £40,000 home will be 17.25 sq metres and have a fully-equipped bedroom, shower room, living area and kitchen. The floor space of the units is half that set out in government guidance, but the company behind iKozie argues that the design, and the fact the units are not meant to be long-term homes, means their size is not a problem.

“A lot of affordable homes don’t come with a cooker or flooring, and lots of people aren’t brilliant at interior design,” says the director of iKozie, Kieran O’Donnell, who is also a trustee of the housing charity The Homeless Foundation.

“With the iKozie, everything is fitted in. There are distinct ‘zones’ for living, eating and sleeping, and there is no wasted space.”

Mr O’Donnell says the units would not be used to house the “street homeless”, but would be for those moving on from supported living or “trapped in an HMO [home of multiple occupation]”. The iKozie would provide transition accommodation for someone before they moved into the open market.

“It’s not meant to be a long-term fix. I see the timeframe for people living there to be about two years-ish – perhaps giving people time to save for a deposit or even a mortgage,” he says.

“At the same time, they’re building up a track record of paying rent and for utilities, which can be shown to housing associations or whoever when they move on to the next stage.”

The businessman is open about the fact that this project is likely to prove a financial success for his company – and he’s currently looking for more sites on which to put more iKozies.

“We also think these will be in high demand for students or maybe older people who are downsizing.”

The five affordable units would be rented at the local housing allowance rate – about £99 a week – while the remaining ones would be available for rent at the market rate of about £125 a week.

People living there would be subject to a strict set of conditions, Mr O’Donnell says. The units would be for single occupancy only and iKozie would monitor the site.

This in turn could free up space in a hostel or supported living accommodation.

So in concrete terms of helping the homeless, the effect will be modest – but could pave the way for further projects.

Stephen Robertson, CEO of the Big Issue Foundation, says spiralling private rent has led to “a rough sleeping crisis, a humanitarian crisis” and even small initiatives like the iKozie development are valuable because of the lessons of the experience.

“There has been a massive increase in tented accommodation – people simply have nowhere to go,” he says.

The iKozies are small but they look fairly well designed and nobody is forced to live in one. They’re not in themselves the answer – social housing is.

“If you look at the scale of the problem, this is just a drop in the ocean. But it is self-sufficient living, not being abandoned in a shed. Taking action where the environment is hostile is important – especially the learning that comes from it.

“We can find out from the development whether the project is scalable and replicable. I see it as an innovation; not more than that, but it is an innovation.

“It will be an improvement on many people’s current situation.

“It is an alternative for people who don’t have an alternative.”

Source: Bethan Bell

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