Housing is affordable when it consumes no more than 30% of a household’s income. Affordable housing refers to housing units that are affordable by that section of society whose income is below the middle-class household income. Though different countries have different definitions of affordable housing, they all mean the same. It should address the housing needs of lower- or middle-income households. Consequently, income from minimum wage earners remains the primary factor in determining affordability; as a result, it becomes the increased responsibility of the government to cater to the rising demand for affordable housing. Am emphatic government should be able to partner with the private sector to make available:
- Cheap but durable building materials available to the public
- The land is readily available irrespective of the location because the cost of a property depends mainly on its site.
- Mass construction of low-income buildings with easy maintenance for the populace.
In Nigeria, housing has been chiefly provided for sale by private real estates companies like Ismail and Partners, Purple Living, Landwey, Pwan homes, Lekki homes, and the rest makes land and housing available for a wide range of people; you can’t term it affordable housing because it can not be affordable by the least in the society. The government has no framework to regulate renting costs for low-income earners.
The stakeholders should approach affordable housing with passion and humanity. The swelling Nigerian population and increased urban migrations have fuelled a perpetual deficit driven by soaring demands.
The government established the first national mortgage policy in the ’70s to provide long-term credit facility to prospective homeowners via banks and other mortgage institutions; that was when houses like Jakande in Lagos, Festac, Iba, etc. sprang up and was available to civil servants. However, the penetrations of the scheme were low mainly because the rates were too expensive for most people.
Nigeria has a deficit of 17million housing units, the worst in the world. The problem is not necessarily lacking funds but the availability of cheap finance and rising costs of building materials. In this era, foreign exchange has taken a new toll, and most construction materials have foreign input. Governments need to bring down the cost of land, which will then reflect on the cost of production by developers for houses.
It is worthy to note that Nigerian lawmakers in recent times, especially the Minister for Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola began considering a bill that calls for rent to be paid monthly instead of once a year to ease the financial burden on tenants. However, experts say the gap will only widen unless we build more affordable houses, and millions will lack affordable shelter.
The stakeholders must amend attention to focus on the less glamorous but more critical affordable housing markets. Also, the government needs to amend its legal and economic structures for real estate to thrive; with this, Nigerians, especially low-income earners, could afford to put a roof over their heads.
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