As a way of addressing the over 16 million housing deficit, social housing has been seen as a ready solution to the problem by experts, through public private partnership(PPP).
Data have shown that more than 70 per cent of the urban population in the country is made up of poor and low income families, which means those who earn less than 1 US dollar per day. It is said that close to half of the urban poor are chronically poor without any means of livelihood.
In his presentation on evolving a framework for a sustainable social housing policy in Nigeria, Prof. Mustapha Zubairu, Director, Centre for Human Settlement and Urban Development of the Federal University of Technology, Minna, said social housing varies from country to country, but he finds South Africa and United Kingdom’s model close to what the federal government should consider for Nigeria.
Social housing is defined as housing with a social purpose. However, according to Jerome Okolo, in practice, an enlightened social housing policy would aim to close the gap between local wages and salary and the market rate/rent for decent homes.
The plans by Nigeria for the new National Housing Policy of 2006, the Presidential Committee Report on Affordable Housing of 2007 amongst others were conceived to ensure that Nigerians have access to decent, safe and healthy housing accommodation at affordable costs.
Speaking on the policy, Okolo said:“The policies are aimed at reforming the nation’s housing sector by ensuring that Nigerians have access to affordable and decent rental housing that would be achieved through a private sector- led housing delivery system anchored on mass construction of houses and strong mortgage finances.”
Social housing should be more than the provision of affordable housing to those in need of it. It should be treated as a means of providing good living environment and promoting social cohesive society.
In his opinion, the Managing Director of Federal Housing Authority(FHA), Terver Gemade, social housing should provide a sustainable approach to reducing the huge housing deficit and also demonstrate the political will of government to ensure the provision of decent housing as a social responsibility to its citizenry.
“It helps to facilitate access to funding from social housing financiers and multilateral agencies. Social housing promotes and support public sector partnership in social housing delivery and contributes to urban regeneration and slum upgrading,”he said.
Going by the growing population of the country and the need to accommodate the low income earners, there is a need to make housing affordable. According to former head of Nigeria’s interim governt, Chief Ernest Shonekan, “Rapid urbanisation and population growth results in the housing deficit we are experiencing in the country.”
He added that delivery and development of sustainable mass housing and urban renewal projects would help alleviate poverty. “We need to assist government to create the necessary enabling environment for public-private partnerships in mass housing in Nigeria and propose innovative ways through which these objectives could be achieved,”he said. The United Development Bank of Nigeria(UDBN) sort the partnership of the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development on how to provide funding solutions to the ministry in the delivery of mass housing and district development infrastructure and basic services projects.
The Managing Director of the bank, Adekunle Abdulrazaq Oyinloye, said: “We want to partner with the ministry using adequate public private partnership methodologies to attract private sector investment and expertise, in the development of both rural and urban land resources.”
However, the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Amal Pepple, reiterated her commitment to providing housing for the low income earners. She said there was a need for houses to be made available for the low income earners in the country.
“My interest is in social housing and we are entitled to a good environment. We need to ensure social housing for the population especially for the less privilege. I’m concerned about the low income earners. We have an arrangement with the Managing Director of Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria(FMBN) and we are discussing because I am interested in social housing, building houses for the low income group. He told me that he has acquired a land somewhere in Abuja and we have agreed that we will dedicate it to low income people,” she said.
Pepple explained that locally sourced materials would be used in the construction of such houses as it would make it affordable for low income earners, adding that constructing the low income houses did not mean the houses would be of low quality. It however remains to be seen if these pronouncements would yield the desired result of adequate housing for Nigeria’s growing population.