Ngilu engages housing stakeholders on affordable housing

March 16, 2015 2:43 pm
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Ngilu called for the meeting which will bring together the county government, Housing Finance, the National Housing Corporation, Shelter Afrique among others, during the release of the 2012/13 Kenya National Housing Survey on Monday/FILE
Ngilu called for the meeting which will bring together the county government, Housing Finance, the National Housing Corporation, Shelter Afrique among others, during the release of the 2012/13 Kenya National Housing Survey on Monday/FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 16 – Lands, Housing and Urban Development Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu is set to meet housing stakeholders on Thursday to chart the way to affordable housing.

Ngilu called for the meeting which will bring together the county government, Housing Finance, the National Housing Corporation, Shelter Afrique among others, during the release of the 2012/13 Kenya National Housing Survey on Monday.

The survey showed that high mortgage interest rates, land and the high cost of building material, were prohibitive to affordable housing.

Ngilu said it was therefore necessary for her Ministry as a policy maker to engage developers and financiers on ways interest rates and the overall cost of construction can be brought down.

“We have to adopt new building technologies and materials that will significantly bring down the cost of construction because even President Uhuru Kenyatta was asking me how my messenger and hair dresser will afford to own their own homes as the current prices,” she said.

Banks therefore, Ngilu said, needed to learn from SACCOs on how to make interest rates more affordable.

“The survey shows that between 2010 and 2011 the average mortgage interest rate went up by two percent. If you’re paying back a mortgage in 15 years how much will it have risen by then? We’ll just be setting ourselves up for foreclosure,” Lands, Housing and Urban Principal Secretary Mariamu El Maawy explained.

But while developers and financiers have a role to play, Ngilu said, part of the blame lay with her Ministry given the slow pace of processing land titles and with the National Housing Corporation having put up only 46,000 units in the last 46 years.

“That is why the Ministry of Lands and Housing were put together; to address the acute shortage of planned land for housing development that have sent land prices sky rocketing,” she explained.

A redeemable state of affairs, Shelter Afrique Head of Strategy, Performance and Market Development Kevin Kihara said, given 41 percent of land in Nairobi is undeveloped.

And as the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development engaged developers and financiers in remedying the housing situation in the country; Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero said his government would do its part by expanding the water and sewer network and by turning one-storey county housing units into high-rises.

Another red flag that had arisen in the survey, El Maawy said, was the fact that 44 percent of built environment professionals are based in Nairobi.

“And if that’s the case then we should be very worried given the number of buildings that have collapsed in Nairobi,” she said.

The housing survey was the first done since 1987 and the first published since independence.

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