Lagos State Urban Renewal Agency (LASURA) has said that majority of low-income earners in Lagos cannot afford house rent of more than N11,000.
LASURA General Manager, Lateef Solebo, disclosed this on Thursday at an interactive session on ‘Achieving Affordable Housing in Lagos’ at the public screening of a documentary drama entitled ‘Kelechi’s Quest’.
The documentary drama was scripted by Nollywood actor, Kelechi Udegbe, on his challenges in getting affordable accommodation in Lagos.
“I conducted a research with my staff to know how much the low-income earners can really afford; what we found was that majority, which is 74 percent of low-income earners, can only afford N4,000 to N11,000 monthly as rent. This group includes people like artisans and traders.
“So, how can we afford low-income units for these kinds of people? Someone asked what happened to the ‘face-me-I-face-you units’ that used to be popular back in the days which people could afford.
“But now we have single room units which cost much higher; we have to create a very good database and project in the next five years on affordable housing,” Solebo said.
The LASURA boss said Lagos had to address the challenges of segregation in which there were high concentration of the wealthy and the poor in order to achieve an egalitarian society.
“Urban planning studies show that if you concentrate majority of the poor in the same areas you have various problems associated with crime.
“If various classes are mixed, for example, the poor with the middle income, the poor will be reoriented and emulate the habits of the middle class.
“This will make them aspire to achieve more, this is a new concept in planning,” he said.
Solebo noted that there were no laws that resettle individuals displaced by government, adding that LASURA had created a redevelopment law to address the issue.
He urged Lagos State government to partner with the private sector, NGOs and international organisations in creating affordable housing similar to Single Room Occupancy (SRO) units in other African countries such as Kenya.
Mr. Tayo Odunsi, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Northcourt Real Estate, emphasised government’s role in providing affordable housing for its citizenry.
Represented by Ayo Ibaru, the company’s manager, Odunsi said government policies have to be dynamic and flexible and must reflect the modern reality of affordable housing.
“You cannot say that a property built in the 60s is designated for only residential purposes when demographics have clearly changed.
“The problem of affordable housing has a lot of faces like segregation and globally, cities have come to realise that segregation is not in their long-term interest.
“The fact that people do not belong to certain classes does not mean they will not be catered for; anyone approaching the concept of mixed housing must address certain issues to avoid problems that can arise from a segregated society,” he said.
Dr. Bashirat Oyalowo, Director, Center for Housing and Sustainable Development, said one of the challenges of achieving affordable housing in Lagos was the Land Use Act.
“The intent of the Land Use Act was to make land accessible to citizens but the application is not the case as it has made land inaccessible; even the government has difficulty acquiring land.
Oyalowo said that only seven out of 17 Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects recently initiated by Lagos State Government actually kicked off.
“The reason for this is because developers could not access the land, the power of allocation lies with the government but the power of access lies with the ‘Omo Onile’ (Land grabbers).
“The Land Use Act is inaccessible because it is enshrined in our constitution, for us to make a change, we have to do intense lobbying in Abuja,” she said.
Udegbe, who played the starring role in the documentary drama, stressed the need for land to be affordable in Lagos.
“Land is the greatest challenge in housing in Lagos. If land can be cheaper people are ready to build the basic structure. Government should make land affordable for the masses,” he said.