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Need to Address Unemployment, Illiquidity to Increase Mortgage Access

The underlining principle of mortgage in Nigeria and any other country in the world states that a loan seeker must have a regular flow of income, which presupposes that such a person must be in paid employment or be self-employed.

Having a job is pertinent in accessing mortgage. But in Nigeria, many people, especially young Nigerians are not employed. Indeed, youth unemployment in the country is a major social challenge in the country and the level is quite high.

At 23.1 per cent in the third quarter (Q3) of 2018, up from 18.8 per cent in Q3 2017, Nigeria has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world and the figures put out by Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in its Q3 2018 report confirm this.

The report explains that “Of the 20.9 million persons classified as unemployed as at Q3 2018, 11.1 million did some form of work but for too few hours a week (under 20 hours) to be officially classified as employed while 9.7 million did absolutely nothing.

“Of the 9.7 million unemployed that did absolutely nothing as at Q3 2018, 90.1 percent of them or 8.77 million were reported to be unemployed and doing nothing because they were first time job seekers and have never worked before”.

Apart from clarity of process, accessibility and affordability are major constraints that have denied many aspiring young and old Nigerians the opportunity of either building or buying homes. Mortgage is not accessible because many people, as pointed out above, are out of job.

Adeniyi Akinlusi, CEO, Trustbond Mortgage Bank, puts it straight that, though the ability of the banks to provide money for mortgage has changed on account of credit challenges in the financial system, mortgage affordability or the fundamentals for lending have not changed.

Technically speaking, there is no mortgage of any form in Nigeria. This is because the interest rate charged is no different from the commercial rate. Mortgage lenders still anchor their loans on good jobs that attract fat monthly salary, meaning that a mortgage loan seeker is still expected to be somebody in a good job or private business with an assured, fat and regular income stream.

Though there is a new mortgage law otherwise called uniform underwriting standard for the informal sector, it is left to evaluate how impacting the new law has been on mortgage lending and home-ownership. The income of some of these informal sector operators can hardly be measured and, so, can hardly be controlled in a formal way.

As against the six percent interest rate and repayment tenor of between 25 and 30 years, depending on the borrower’s age, mortgage lenders in this country charge between 17 percent and 22 percent interest rate on mortgage loans with a repayment tenor as short as 12-24 months. The tenor also depends on the level of risk associated with either the loan or the borrower or both.

Because of this, the ever widening housing demand supply gap can easily be blamed on the commercial interest rate charged on mortgage loans which makes such loans hardly affordable to home loan seekers.

The mortgage industry does not operate in isolation of the economy. Certainly, as an integral part of the economy, it has to be affected by the economic crisis in the country today. A good number of people who were in employment before now do not have jobs again because of the downturn in the economy.

In spite of this, mortgage operators insist that the fundamentals for lending have not changed, which means that if somebody has a good job with a financial institution or a multinational company, and the pay package is high enough for him to afford a mortgage, the economic crisis has not changed that affordability.

The past few years have seen quite a number of mortgage products aimed at enabling subscribers own their own homes, but these products are yet to help reduce existing housing gap by increasing housing stock. The reason is simple. The products, like the mortgage loans, are hardly accessed by those who need them and, according to mortgage operators, those mortgage products are not the ones that will make any impact on housing.

“The mortgage products that we have today are commercial mortgages which the investor wants to recover his money from. It is just like someone else who has invested in any other venture. He has to recover his money because he borrows from the same place like you”, an operator who did not want to be named, noted.

Mortgage products can make impact on housing only when there is government intervention and, anywhere else in the world, there is government intervention to make mortgage affordable to everybody, no matter the income level.

As obtains in other societies, mortgage could be used to move the economy from being import- dependent to a producing and exporting country and Akinlusi says mortgage institutions need long term loans for housing finance. When there are enough funds to lend to property developers and to home seekers, the entire economy will be stimulated.

By the time there are enough funds in the hands of mortgage institutions for long term loans to property developers, there will be a lot of property construction activities and when these happen, a lot of other activities will be generated and the economy will be better for it.

Engineers, architects, bricklayers, casual labourers and even food vendors will be automatically engaged by a single development in one corner of the city, and it is unimaginable what is possible when there are many of such developments going on at various parts of the country. The long term effect is the development of industries and factories that produce building materials such as cement, rods, roofing materials, wooden materials etc.

Ultimately, this will impact on the wider economy and your guess is as good as mine as to what follows when people have enough capital at their disposal. Definitely, investment is the next line of thought and, depending on the prevailing business environment and government policies, people will invest in many asset classes including real estate.

Public Housing Submissions Over New Dublin Suburb Rejected

Submissions to have a new Dublin suburb development of nearly 3,000 homes consist entirely of public housing have been rejected by council planners.

Councillors passed a Local Area Plan (LAP) Park West-Cherry Orchard allowing apartment blocks up to 10 storeys high over a 46 hectare area in the west of the city .

The monthly meeting heard that up 2,920 apartments and houses could be built in eight separate sites and density could be increased further by the use of shared accommodation or build to rent schemes.

Local People Before Profit representatives wanted all the units to be public housing while Sinn Féin wanted private housing to make up just 10%.

However Chief Executive Owen Keegan said the original scheme which was adopted by the council specifically aimed to provide private housing as a way of improving the balance of tenure and income.

He said that at the moment the area has just 26% owner occupier and 6% private rental which means less opportunity to buy or rent in the area.

“The correlation with economic status and disposable income also has an impact on the ability to sustain commercial shops and services, essential to meet the local demands of everyone,” he stated.

The different tenures in the LAP will include 10% social, affordable/co-operative housing, housing for senior citizens, special needs, private housing and cost-rental.

Source – RTE

Boston’s Public Housing Goes Private: Why the City is Teaming Up With Developers.

Emilia Perez moved to the Orient Heights public housing development in East Boston in the ’90s, and she looked forward to a possible revamp of the property.

“I was happy every time people would say, ‘Oh, they be doing the new buildings,'” she says.

That redevelopment — the demolition and rebuilding of 331 public housing units — is finally underway. Perez moved to a different part of Orient Heights during the first phase of construction, and some of her neighbors decided not to move back in when their new homes were completed, she says.

But now Perez has a new townhouse with built-in air conditioning and a good kitchen — which is important, because she likes to cook.

“I like what I see,” she says of the reconstruction so far. “Everybody wants something new.”

In this case, Trinity Financial, a private developer, is doing the construction, not the Boston Housing Authority, the agency in charge of the city’s public housing. The company has undertaken similar projects for several other BHA sites.

The Orient Heights project is part of a years-long trend in Boston, and across the country, in which public housing authorities partner with outside developers.

Why Team Up With Private Companies?

A lack of federal funding has changed the way the BHA operates, says Kate Bennett, the agency’s senior deputy administrator for redevelopment projects.

“We will never see the kind of federal dollars we’ll need to transform those sites,” she says, referring to large developments like Bunker Hill, the system’s biggest. Bennett estimates the reconstruction project there will cost upwards of $1.5 billion.

So the BHA sought private developers and nonprofits to bankroll these construction projects, leveraging the value of the land to attract potential partners, Bennett says. Many cities across the country have adopted the same public/private approach, which is often called mixed-finance redevelopment.

The BHA has already redeveloped several properties this way, including Roxbury’s Orchard Gardens (formerly Orchard Park) and Washington Beech in Roslindale. In those examples, square brick buildings closed off from the rest of the neighborhood have been transformed into colorful apartments, crisscrossed by public streets.

Some developments, like Maverick Landing in East Boston, were transformed from pure public housing to a mix of affordable and market-rate apartments. Bunker Hill, Mildred C. Hailey in Jamaica Plain and Whittier Street in Roxbury will all open up to different income levels as part of their overhauls.

In previous projects, the BHA did not always replace all the affordable units lost during redevelopment, Bennett says. The agency’s current projects, though, will include at least as many affordable units as each development had before the revamp.

Who’s Doing The Construction?

With mixed-finance redevelopments, outside companies oversee construction and the day-to-day management of the site, and collect the rent that tenants pay. The BHA retains ownership of the land.

Three nonprofit developers — the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation, The Community Builders and Urban Edge — have teamed up to rehab the Amory Street and Mildred C. Hailey (formerly known as Bromley-Heath) developments in Jamaica Plain.

Amory Street is currently undergoing renovations. Parts of Mildred C. Hailey are slated to be razed in the next few years.

Marty Jones, the interim CEO of Urban Edge, lists the problems at Hailey: Elevators are constantly out of service, forcing residents to walk up and down many stairs; heating systems are outdated and inefficient; doors need modern security systems.

“It’s very hard to retrofit these old buildings to accommodate the things that are really needed today,” she says.

So the nonprofits decided to start from scratch, with a vision of breaking up the isolated “superblocks” of public housing and opening up the neighborhood to public streets.

But there’s more to fix than just physical problems, says Jones.

“Not only were these buildings identifiable when you drive by them, when a child goes to school, and someone sees their address as an address that they know is Mildred Hailey, they know that child is from a low-income family,” Jones says. “And unfortunately, prejudice and other kinds of biases start to come up.”

Jones says one goal of Mildred C. Hailey’s transformation into a mixed-income community is to get rid of those class identifiers. The redevelopment plan proposes the replacement of 250 public housing units and the addition of about 360 affordable and market-rate units.

The reconstruction process is designed to keep current residents in the neighborhood. The new buildings will go up first, so current residents can move in. Then the old buildings will be demolished. Jones says the plan is for construction and demolition to start in the next few years.

Planning For The Future

The renovation and redevelopment projects currently underway will add 441 new affordable rental units to the city’s housing stock, according to BHA spokesman Brian Jordan. That number doesn’t include upcoming redevelopments like Mildred C. Hailey.

But there are 47,000 families on the waiting list for public housing in Boston, the BHA’s Bennett says — a symptom of the lack of affordable housing in the city.

“It’s been staggering for many, many years,” says Bennett. “The reality is, we can’t add very many. As it is, assembling the financing just to replace what we have, bring what we have forward for another generation — I mean, there are staggering needs.”

If funding to renovate buildings is hard to come by, so is funding to keep the existing units affordable. That’s why some BHA developments will transition to new funding models.

Some developments will start using modified Section 8 funding — a type of federal affordable housing subsidy that Bennett says is more stable because it has more bipartisan support in Congress.

The BHA has also learned how to make money through its partnerships with private companies, Bennett adds.

“In the early days, we would simply donate the land to the project,” Bennett says, whereas today, the BHA leases the land to developers.

The BHA’s redevelopment projects are scheduled to continue into the 2020s, bringing major changes to a system that started in the 1930s.

“BHA as an agency will own and manage directly fewer units,” Bennett says. “But my hope is that — and our goal is that — we are continuing to preserve every unit and that we’re continuing to improve every unit.”

Source – Bostonomix

Foreign Investment in Real Estate Nearly Doubles in Greece in 2019

According to official data published recently by the Bank of Greece, foreign investment in Greek real estate grew by a stunning 94.6 percent during the first half of 2019, compared to the same period last year.

Between January and June of 2019, more than €736 million was invested by non-Greek nationals in the country’s real estate market.

This becomes even more impressive if we take into consideration that 2018 already was a record-breaking year for Greek real estate, as it recorded a jaw-dropping 172-percent increase over the numbers for 2017, reaching €1.72 billion.

Since the total of direct foreign investments in Greece totalled a mere 4.25 billion euros in 2018, it is clear that real estate investment attracts nearly a quarter of all foreign investment in the country.

The rapid development of short-term-renting platforms such as Airbnb, along with the increase in tourism to Greece and the country’s steady path to economic recovery, has played a crucial role in this positive trend.

Approximately four out of five non-Greek real estate investors are other EU nationals, with Germans, Dutch, British, French, and Italians among the top.

The remaining 20 percent of the investors, who are not EU nationals, are mainly comprised of Russians, Chinese and citizens of Arab countries.

The Greek government’s recent announcement that it will cease imposing a 24-percent VAT on real estate for a span of three years is expected to boost the already rapidly-expanding sector even further.

Source – Greek Reporter

SEEDS Builds Community-driven, Disaster Resilient Bamboo Housing in India

The non-profit organisation (SEEDS) took up the housing reconstruction initiative in Assam after the devastating floods of 2017, working with local organisation NEADS (North-east Affected Area Development Society) to design and build the houses.

The development was formulated with a vision to build resilient communities through participatory design, illustrating a model of contemporary vernacular architecture in an area where the annual phenomenon of flooding and repeated loss due to that perpetuates poverty.

Environmentally sustainable solutions were discovered in the vernacular architectural typology of stilt houses built in bamboo. A 23-square-meter core house built atop stilts was designed following sphere humanitarian standards for disaster response within the given budget constraint; its high stilts helping to cope with the annual flooding while its flexible joinery system allows the homeowners to shift the floor higher in case of overflooding – a unique feature that was adopted from the traditional practice of the region.

The organisation adopted an owner-driven approach, enabling house owners to have a say in the design and construction. A team of architects worked with local families to come up with a hybrid housing design — one that married modern technology with local traditional architecture.

The layout of the house is simple and multipurpose, supporting the lifestyle of the local community. The stilts are high enough to allow day-to-day activities such as weaving, rearing livestock, and the storage of boats, used during floods or a play space for children, and a semi-open verandah is provided for social interaction, food preparation or basketry as done traditionally by the communities.

Architects and Artisans worked together to develop disaster-resilient construction details that could be built using local materials and skills. Required changes were made to enhance the conventional construction details such as deeper bamboo footings encased in concrete; stilt bamboo columns waterproofed with a rubberized coating; introduction of cross-bracings and use of indigenous tying techniques with rattan and bamboo dowels to make the structure resistant to lateral forces during floods and earthquakes.

Source – designboom

Federal Housing Official Says Fraud Charges Building Over NYCHA No-Bid Contracts

New York’s top federal housing official, citing an investigation by THE CITY revealing how NYCHA spends millions on no-bid contracts, declared Monday that “fraud charges are forthcoming.”

Lynne Patton, regional administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s New York-New Jersey office, also tweeted that NYCHA’s federal monitor “has already found THOUSANDS of examples of no-bid abuse & more.”

She added: “Make no mistake, fraud charges are forthcoming either via the SDNY [Southern District of New York, aka Manhattan federal prosecutors] criminal division or HUD’s Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act. Game over!”

THE CITY reported earlier Monday that low-level NYCHA managers have doled out thousands no-bid contracts, under $5,000, that are subject to little oversight.

Since 2014, NYCHA has spent $250 million on so-called micro purchases — despite three internal warnings from the city Department of Investigation that such contracts are vulnerable to corruption.

Residents ‘Still Suffer’

In one case, an internal DOI report that found evidence of a contractor billing NYCHA for work that apparently was done by the agency itself. Another report found a small number of select vendors are getting the bulk of these contracts, and that NYCHA managers aren’t inspecting the work to make sure it’s complete.

“Worse, the residents have nothing to show for it & still suffer,” wrote Patton, who retweeted THE CITY’s report from her official HUD account.

She contended federal monitor Bart Schwartz, who was appointed to oversee reforms of the troubled agency under an agreement the city signed in January with HUD and the Justice Department, already discovered evidence of “abuse.”

Schwartz’ appointment followed an investigation by the Manhattan U.S. attorney. Prosecutors from that office are still involved in tracking how NYCHA responds to the monitor’s proposed reforms.

A spokesperson for the federal prosecutor did not respond to a request for comment about the no-bid contracts.

‘Chronic Fiscal Mismanagement’

On Monday night, Schwartz held a roundtable with a group of tenant leaders, elected officials and representatives of various city agencies called the Community Advisory Committee. He did not address the issue of no-bid contracts.

A spokesperson for Schwartz declined to comment on Patton’s statement.

But city Comptroller Scott Stringer cited THE CITY’s findings as another example of the housing authority’s many challenges.

“Our audits have repeatedly shined a light on NYCHA’s chronic fiscal mismanagement, and this [report] is yet another troubling example of their dysfunction,” he stated.

Councilmember Ritchie Torres (D-The Bronx), chair of the Council’s investigations and oversight committee, noted the no-bid problem in January after DOI found a NYCHA manager had awarded five under $5,000 contracts at the Throggs Neck Houses.

“The deregulated world of micro-contracting — $250 million and counting — is a breeding ground for corruption and influence-peddling,” he said in a statement to THE CITY. “NYCHA’s process for administering micro contracts needs to be fundamentally re-thought.”

Source – THE CITY

Adamawa Assembly Approves N9.9 Billion Loan For Construction of 2,000 Houses

Adamawa House of Assembly has approved request by Gov. Ahmadu Fintiri to secure N9.9 billion loan for the construction of 2,000 housing units for civil servants across the state.

The loan is to be secured from Family Homes Funds Limited (FHFL).
Approval for the loan followed the reading of the letter of request from the governor by the Speaker, Alhaji Aminu Iya-Abbas at the Monday plenary.

According to Fintiri, the loan is payable in 12 years with five years moratorium.

He said that the company on completion of the houses would partner with the state government to provide mortgage to civil servants, to enable them buy the houses.

Housing News reports that the House also approved the executive request for the restructuring of the repayment period of a N6 billion loan, collected by the immediate past Muhammadu Bindow-led administration, from 24 months to 36 months.

Family Homes Funds to deliver 40,000 homes by 2020

The Managing Director of the Family Homes Funds, Femi Adewole, says the target of the FHF by this time next year is to complete or commence the construction of about 40,000 affordable homes across the country. Adewole said this yesterday during a courtesy call on the FHF in Abuja by a team from Media Trust Limited, publishers of the Daily Trust and other titles.

The Family Homes Funds, dubbed sub-Sahara Africa’s largest housing fund, is a social housing initiative promoted by the Federal Government as part of its Social Intervention Programmes.

Adewole said the fund, in just a year of existence, had about 4,000 homes currently at various stages of completion across five states of the federation.

According to him, the FHF is probably the largest building programme in Nigeria in a very long time. He said: “In Ogun state, we are doing 1,070 homes. In Nasarawa, we have completed about 580 and in Kaduna we are about 60 per cent completion of about 620 homes. In Kano, we are building about 767 homes. In Delta state, we have about 620 homes.” He said FHF had reached agreements with some state governments to finance a number of affordable homes. “We have an agreement with Borno State to finance about 4900 homes. Of that, 3200 is replacement homes for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and 1,700 for civil servants. We have also signed with Yobe state for 3,600 homes, Adamawa 2,000 and for Bauchi 2500 homes,” he added

He said discussions were currently ongoing with states like Ebonyi, Kogi, Akwa Ibom, Anambra and a number of others. “The objective is that by this time next year, we should have completed or have gone into construction for about 40,000 homes,” he said. He said the FHF would soon roll out a rental housing scheme where Nigerians could move to their houses with just a month rent and a month deposit and with an option to buy the house.

Source: Daily Trust

Nigeria Needs Collective Efforts to Hasten National Growth – Minister

Collective efforts of the public and private sectors in Nigeria will hasten the growth of the nation, the Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has said.

The minister said this at the 25th Nigerian Economic Summit in Abuja on Monday. The summit is being held under the theme: ‘Nigeria 2050: Shifting Gears.

Mrs Ahmed acknowledged the crucial role of the private sector in economic development, saying its collaboration with the public sector will bring to reality, by 2050, the kind of future Nigerians crave.

“This future will require comprehensive targeted reforms, tough decisions, a radical shift in the current culture, including attitudes towards taxes and public finance,” she said.

The minister said the future requires huge financial investments in multi-faceted physical and social areas by the federal, state and local governments for provision of useful amenities.

“Additionally, we must be in a position to provide digital connectivity and innovation, and rise above the tide of disruption that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will bring,” she said.

The minister used the occasion to outline the critical areas that the government places priority on in the implementation of its policies.

The priority areas include economic and governance reforms; macroeconomic stability through coordinated economic, monetary, fiscal and trade policies; fight against corruption and improved governance.

Others are enhanced investments in physical infrastructure, human capital development to spur job creation and economic growth; improved health, education and productivity of Nigerians as well as energy sufficiency (power) and petroleum products; and improved transportation and other Infrastructure.

Also, they include drive towards industrialisation, focusing on macro, small and medium-sized enterprises, optimise investments in physical security and food security to drive inclusive socio-economic development, improve security for all citizens, enhance agriculture self-sufficiency to achieve food security, social inclusion by scaling-up social investments, improve access to mass housing and consumer credit to enhance financial inclusion

Mrs Ahmed said the outputs of the 25th Anniversary Summit will be critical towards co-creating the Nigeria envisioned by its people.

She said the summit will aid the government in developing and implementing the next generation of national plans, and towards implementing policies.

Speaking at the summit, the Chairman of Nigerian Economic Summit Group, Asue Ighadalo, said there is a marginal increase in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), between the last summit and now.

“The real GDP growth rate improved marginally, but remained below our projections. We recorded a GDP growth rate of about two per cent in the first half of 2019, and a decline in headline inflation from 15.1 per cent to 11 per cent,” he said.

However, he said the rate of inflationary decline has slowed considerably, largely as a result of food inflation, which remained at 13.2 per cent.

Mr Ighadalo said it has resulted in continued erosion of the real income of most of Nigerians .

He said the total revenue receipts for 2018 came in at N3.5 trillion, only 48.6 per cent of the projected revenue figure for the year, while total debt service at N2.2 trillion remained unchanged relative to projections.

“If this imbalance persists, the availability of funds to drive infrastructure development and other social investment programmes will remain challenged.

“As such, there is an urgent need to address not just our perennial revenue-expenditure mismatches, but our overall productivity and growth as a nation,” he said

SOURCE: Allafrica

Nigeria’s Tortuous Journey To Affordable Housing

For the majority of Nigerians, the road to standard, quality and decent housing remains long and tortuous. They are still far from meeting virtually all the global standards and yardsticks for measuring what constitutes adequate and decent housing, going by a recent report, by the UN-Habitat, a United Nations (UN) human settlement programme, titled “The Right to Adequate Housing.”

The UN’s report, which was accessed by The Nation, broadly defines what constitutes adequate housing, in the context of global standards, to mean adequate privacy, space, security, lighting, heating and ventilation.

Others are access to basic infrastructure, such as water supply, sanitation, waste management and adequate location to work and basic facilities – all at reasonable cost.

The report, which recognises adequate and decent housing as everyone’s fundamental need, said, for instance, that citizens’ right to adequate housing should contain some freedoms, such as protection against forced evictions and the arbitrary destruction and demolition of one’s home; the right to be free from arbitrary interference with one’s home, privacy and family; and the right to choose one’s residence, to determine where to live and the freedom of movement.

“If eviction may be justifiable, because the tenant persistently fails to pay rent or damages the property without reasonable cause, the state must ensure that it is carried out in a lawful, reasonable and proportional manner, and in accordance with international law.

‘’Effective legal recourse and remedies should be available to those who are evicted, including adequate compensation for any real or personal property affected by the eviction.

“Evictions should not result in individuals becoming homeless or vulnerable to further human rights violations. In general, international human rights law requires governments to explore all feasible alternatives before carrying out any eviction to avoid, or at least minimise, the need to use force. When evictions are carried out as a last resort, those affected must be afforded effective procedural guarantees, which may have a deterrent effect on planned evictions,” the report said.

The UN report, which ought to put the authorities in the housing sector on their toes on meeting the global definition of adequate housing, also contained some entitlements such security of tenure; housing, land and property restitution; equal and non-discriminatory access to adequate housing; participation in housing-related decision-making at the national and community levels.

The Nation checks showed that the UN report may have exposed the lapses in the Nigeria’s housing sector. This is because majority of Nigerians still fall far short of global recommended standards or definition of adequate and decent housing. For instance, most of the suburbs in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre, such as Ajegunle, Orile, Isolo, Alimosho, Ajangbadi, Agege and others, an average room designed for an occupant takes as many as eight persons.

Experts’ reaction

Expectedly, the UN report has elicited diverse reactions from industry experts and stakeholders. However, a common thread that runs through their reactions is the fact that the report exposed the shortcomings in the nation’s housing sector, as well as the need for authorities in the sector to go back to the drawing board in the country and her citizens must meet global standards for adequate and decent housing.

For instance, a former National Secretary of the Nigeria Institution of Estate Surveyors & Valuers, Sam Ukpong, said most Nigerians, or rather most people in Lagos cannot be said to be living in a house. He said those who can be said to live in houses built with bricks and mortar practice open defecation, as the houses are without toilets or it takes too long for residents to take turns.

He said the aggression and impatience that pervade the society could be attributed to where people reside. He said, for instance, what happens on the streets of major cities, especially Lagos, where people transfer aggression on road users is as a result of the stress they go through commuting either to work or their places of business speaks for itself. He said the time it takes one to get to his place of business or work has a major effect on the behavioural pattern of the particular person.

Ukpong said: “Adequate and decent housing has a way of increasing the life expectancy of people. The government is not doing enough in terms of housing provision. Adequate housing is a human right. If the government wants to fight insecurity and crime, it should work seriously in making housing affordable to those in the lower rung of the ladder.

“In Lagos, for instance, the HOMs Programme, which is supposed to make housing accessible to first time home owners, is almost comatose. I am yet to identify anybody that has the opportunity of owning a house through that programme”.

Ukpong said a man that is not sure of where he would sleep after a day’s hard work, or already has it ingrained in him that his accommodation is not what it is supposed to be and is already thinking of how he will wake up early in the morning to take his bath before others, is likely to be short tempered and angry at almost everybody.

He, therefore, called on the government to take housing seriously by ensuring that those entrusted with providing housing or making it accessible to the low income earners, do it right.

Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) President Mr. Rowland Abonta also said a wrong housing policy could stall the development of the nation and encourage insecurity.

Abonta, who spoke at the inaugural meeting of the 2019/2020 National Council of NIESV in Abuja, stressed that housing should be incorporated in the national development policy to check insecurity.

He said: “Nigeria would become a better nation when stakeholders stopped playing politics with housing issues. I call on the government and policy makers to be honest with the issue. It is a human requirement ranked as number two among human needs. The day we stop playing politics with it is the day we will be a better nation.”

Indeed, people brought up in squalors and indecent environments, according to experts, are aggressive and always upset with nature.

They are very reactive and aggressive to the public. If a census of convicted criminals is taken, one will almost be sure that they are usually from poor backgrounds. This means that Nigeria may have been unwittingly breeding criminals with her national and anti people housing policy.

According to Abonta, the biggest challenge in the Nigerian housing sector is lack of planning. He expressed regret that over the years, housing has been made a political issue such that every administration spends huge sums that is not based on any indices at all because they do not know what they are providing for, neither do they attain the goal they set for themselves. But at the end of the day, some budget has been spent.

To properly plan for housing, Abonta advised that there is the need for the government to undertake a housing survey to determine what the people need. He maintained that housing survey is necessary to determine the housing stock, and the housing needs in the country, adding that adequate planning will bring all other problems into proper perspective.

The NIESV president said the 17 million housing deficit being bandied about may not be correct because there was no empirical basis that gave rise to the figure.

On social housing, he said it would be impossible for low income earners to own their houses with the kind of housing arrangements and financing available in the country.

According to him, in developed societies, there is provision for social housing, stressing that the NIESV had in the past harped on the need for the establishment of such housing schemes in the country to no avail. He said a responsible system or government will insist that investors in the housing sector should dedicate a reasonable percentage of their investment to low income people.

Abonta advised the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) to devote more time and resources to building big housing estates. “I am yet to know when they (FHA) will do the kind of thing they did in Lugbe, Abuja, in those days, which was called National Housing Programme,” he said.

Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, advised the Board of the FHA to invest massively in housing development nationwide as a means to further address the challenge of unemployment in the country.

Fashola, who spoke after receiving the yearly report of the board of the FHA in his office, urged the Authority to replicate, nationwide its ongoing 700 units, 10, 000 employees Abuja Mass Housing project in Zuba. According to him, such investment, if replicated in the 36 states of the federation and Abuja, will create an ecosystem of opportunities for jobs and industrialisation.

The Minister noted that through the project, FHA has identified appropriately the critical role that housing development could play in responding to and solving some of the problems and challenges currently faced in the country.

He said: “If you go to a site where over 700 housing units are being built and 10, 000 people are benefiting and getting employment there, you are really beginning to address the social issues of exclusion, unemployment, joblessness and restoring the dignity of the human being.

SOURCE: THENATIONONLINE

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