Many times thoughts of people who don’t have a place to truly call home, without fear of eviction or a level of uncertainty as to what will happen the next moment flood my busy mind. In this article I will be discussing how social housing can reduce homelessness in Nigeria
In as much as our slogan in Realty Point Limited is “SACK YOUR LANDLORD”, the reality on ground demonstrates the fact that some people may never be able to own the roof over their heads. These groups of people are susceptible to so many unfavourable events because they are subject to the dictates of their environment. They can be pushed here, they can be shoved there. In most cases, you see these people, living in substandard apartments if they are not out-rightly homeless.
This brings me to the focus of a summit I attended sometime ago titled “Social Housing”. You see, it’s quite imperative for a country like Nigeria to begin to come up with a Social Housing framework. And my gladness having attended that seminar stemmed from the fact that it was not just “plenty talk” as usual.
We were also able to indicate interest in a social housing policy working group and I personally want to believe that this working group will not only be effective but also be able to translate some of the things said at the summit into reality.
The truth is this, even if mortgage were okay today and everybody could access mortgage, even if Naira earning power increases and we witness a certain level of economic growth, there will still be that spectrum of people (say maybe 20% to 30%) who really cannot afford to own a house no matter the arrangement in place.
Based on this, it is expected that in any organized society such people are supposed to be provided for because it is everybody’s RIGHT to have a roof over his/her head.
In developed societies, you hear things like “council flats”. This is a place where you can lay your head during you “trial” or “start – up” period in life and you are permitted to pay rent in a way that is affordable to you. Even when you can not afford to pay rent, there is a social scheme in place in such developed societies that guarantees your being housed for that period. While you are at it, you can be trained and equipped so that you can be reintroduced into the economic life of the society even as a tax payer and before long; a measure of stability is injected into your life once again.
Social housing is all about provision of housing for those who cannot afford it. This form of housing is not for ownership. It cannot be transferred to their children at their death.
Social housing is basically meant to shield those without a roof over their head while they are alive. The beneficiaries of social housing pay minimal rent or in some cases they are catered for at no single cost for a period. The aim of social housing is for people to have something decent to live in and not a wishy – washy thing.
Social housing should not be a slum in disguise. It should be up to standard and it has minimum requirements. However, there are slight hindrances to this and for these reasons government must play a leading role in the social housing scheme in any country.
This they can do by supporting developers in providing the enabling environment as well as giving incentives and subsidies to encourage developers and the real estate industry in the direction of social housing so that the generality of the masses living below a dollar a day can boast of a roof over their head.
Time, delivery, quality and cost should be put in place so that social housing can be achieved. My earnest wish is for well meaning individuals to look out for social housing policy working groups that they can contribute to, so that the generality of the people can be housed in a decent manner.
When I say a decent manner, I mean a neat and well organized environment where everything is properly placed and coordinated. This is vital so that the inhabitants of these facilities can begin to think in a more balanced state and start to pursue higher goals in life instead of chasing after the most basic of necessities perpetually.
At Realty Point Ltd, we are very passionate about this and that is why I am focusing on this issue today. I am giving my time and everything that I can to contribute my own quota to social housing because I am a strong advocate of people having a shelter over their head.
Having said that, I expect government to take up the responsibility of eradicating slums albeit make better alternatives for the slum dwellers.
Given the sharp rise in the number of slums, it is expected that all hands should be on deck to regenerate and redevelop existing slums instead of creating more slums or just destroying the existing ones without a plan in place.
While redeveloping a slum, we should take responsibility of those dislodged from the slum because if they are left to wander, they will only create another slum as has been the case in some places in Lagos.
See you all at the very top!
MD/CEO, Realty Point Limited