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Partnerships to ease housing shortage

NAIROBI, Kenya Nov 16 – The Ministry of Housing is wants more Housing Cooperative societies formed to address the challenge of housing development especially in informal settlements.

The Ministry believes this will supplement its efforts in house delivery as well as mobilise much needed resources for the slum upgrading program.

Housing Minister Soita Shitanda said on Tuesday the ministry was faced with financial challenges that have slowed down slum upgrading projects, but that housing cooperatives provided an ideal opportunity to partner with the community.

“Housing cooperatives gives us an effective tool for developing and delivering much needed housing units especially for the low income bracket,” Mr Shitanda said.

Together with the Ministry of Cooperative Development, the ministry has so far developed 20 housing cooperatives in slums and informal settlements.

“We want to move from a situation where people ask what the government can do for me to where they ask what we can do together with the government,” he emphasised.

The Ministry of Housing has been under enormous pressure to improve the living standards in slums in major urban towns.

Mr Shitanda said that was due to the inadequate resources made available to the ministry by the Treasury.

The ministry currently receives Sh1billion against an estimated Sh10 billion required to upgrade slums and put up new housing units to ease the housing shortage in the country.

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House supply is estimated at 30,000 units against a demand of 150,000 units annually. This has seen real estate developers taking advantage marking up house prices by close to 50 percent.

The upgrading of the Kibera slums has so far cost the government an estimated Sh996 million with the development of 600 housing units.

The project however hit a snag in 2009 when a section of the residents in Soweto East went to court blocking the demolition of their structures before they were compensated.

This threw the government of course in developing 1000 new units in which to resettle Kibera residents.

The Housing Ministry has embarked on the upgrading of Eastlands with the first phase in Shauri Moyo expected to be complete in the next two months.

Mr Shitanda said the 315 housing units would be complete by the end of January under the Civil Servant Housing Scheme. He added that they would maintain similar rent to what tenants were currently paying to avoid them being displaced.

“We want to move people and not necessarily uproot them which would lead to them to form other informal settlements across the city,” he said.

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