Bridging housing deficit in Lagos
Sir: Globally, housing deficit is huge with a wide gap in demand and supply in the sector leading to homelessness, rise in slums and squatter settlements which usually result in low level of health due to poor living condition and lack of basic services. Nigeria’s housing deficit was estimated at 17 million as at August 2012 by the National Bureau of Statistic (NBS). In Lagos State, adequate housing has always been a challenge in view of rapid urbanisation which has led to tremendous increase in population. Home to over 23 million inhabitants with an estimated 86 people relocating to the state every hour, housing deficit in Lagos is a real issue with affordability worsening because more people are chasing a limited supply of real estate. It is, however, cheering that a government with a toga of inclusive governance is striving hard to proffer solutions to the various challenges confronting housing in the state.
Residents of Lagos, no doubt have much more to celebrate at this period of its 50 years anniversary with the proposed plan of the Akinwunmi Ambode administration to construct 20,000 additional housing units in the next five years under the Lagos Affordable Public Housing (LAPH) programme. Policymaking process in a responsible and responsive democratic setting start from problem recognition and followed by agenda setting. Lagos State Government has identified shortfall of 2.5 million housing deficits in the state and has set out with a futuristic policy of Lagos Affordable Public Housing programme to address the problem through direct and Public Private Partnership.
With a burning desire to put tax payers’ money into judicious use and improve the living standard of Lagosians, the government has already mobilised six developers to sites for construction to commence on the scheme planned to be christened Jubilee Housing Estates in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the state.
Prior to this time, the mortgage option under the Lagos Home Ownership Mortgage Scheme (Lagos HOMS) was the cheapest means of becoming a Lagos State housing unit owner. This entails a deposit of 30 per cent as equity contribution while payment of the balance in monthly instalments is spread over a period of 10 years. However, it was observed that many of the young adults and low income earners were unable to come up with the deposit. Meanwhile, under the new Rent-To-Own policy, individuals are required to pay only five per cent of the cost of the housing unit as the commitment fee and the balance is spread over a period of 10 years. This policy allows allottees to live in the property while paying towards ownership at a fixed rent over the 10 year period. The Rent-To-Own policy is for every resident of the state irrespective of state of origin, profession, gender, religion and status.
The Rent-To-Own policy is not just about provision of shelter; it is also about economic stimulation and empowerment. The new homes provided will require furniture and home gadgets such as electrical/ electronic appliances etc. The increase in demand for these items is expected to stimulate production and consequently economic growth. Artisans and technicians such as auto mechanics, panel beaters etc. are not left out as their market share will be boosted by the influx of people into the communities where the estates are located. The same is also applicable to food vendors as well as market men and women. In short, the policy will stimulate the GDP of the state. The state’s Ministry of Housing has also taken over all abandoned estates in the state and working towards their completion so as to meet the need of the Rent-To-Own Policy.
• Rasak Musbau is of the Features Unit, Lagos State Ministry of Information.