As the world celebrates 2017 International Habitat Day, experts and stakeholders in the built industry have called for new housing policies that would guarantee affordable homes for all and sundry in Lagos state.
Lagos, which is home to about 22 million people, is faced with growing housing challenge, a situation the government is addressing by working round the clock to close the housing deficit gap and improve residents’ access to affordable housing.
In a discourse on this year’s theme: “Housing Policies; Affordable Homes”, the government, experts in the built environment and relevant stakeholders reflected on and to enact laws and implement concrete programmes that would ensure not just conducive adequate homes, but which is affordable for low income earners, who make about 70 percent of the population, in order to provide affordable housing for them in the context of the implementation of the New Urban Agenda at all levels, as well as the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
According to the United Nations, governments are to urgently address the crucial aspect of housing affordability. An analysis of housing affordability over the last 20 years reveals that despite increasing demand, housing – and rental housing- has been largely unaffordable for the majority of the world population.
Statistics have it that handing over housing to the market has proved a failure in providing affordable and adequate housing for all. Today, 1.6 billion people live in inadequate housing, of which 1 billion live in slums and informal settlements. And while millions of people lack suitable homes, the stock of vacant houses is gradually increasing.
But speaking at the event organised by the state’s Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development to mark the 2017 World Habitat Day at Alausa, Ikeja, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode said his administration is working hard to deliver 20,000 affordable housing units in the first three years in office.
To achieve this, the governor said the government has embarked on massive urban renewal and slum upgrading/regeneration work in partnership with some private developers and relevant stakeholders in the built industry to close the housing deficit gap and improve residents’ access to affordable housing.
Ambode, who was represented by his deputy, Dr. Idiat Adebule, said his administration was poised to provide an enabling environment for investment in the housing sector in line with its desire to provide decent and affordable housing for all the residents irrespective of their tribe or background.
He expressed happiness at the state government’s ability to deliver a total of 4,355 housing units across the three Senatorial Districts under the popular Rent-To-Own scheme, adding that the ongoing redevelopment work at Adeniji Adele Phase I-V is part of the efforts to ease accommodation problem of the residents.
“The redevelopment of Isale-Gangan Phase 1into the construction of 11 floor-structures with 48 serviced luxury apartments and the second Phase of the project would yield a 13-floor apartment structure also aimed at easing the problem of accommodation in the State”.
While describing the theme for the Year 2017 celebration: “Housing Policies, Affordable Homes” as relevant and apt, Ambode noted that it is a clarion call by the United Nations on governments around the world to provide housing within the reach of the common man.
Ambode reaffirmed the commitment of the present administration to providing housing units that will be affordable to the common man, saying “Our promise to make life more comfortable for our people was made, keeping in mind, the need to provide decent and affordable housing for all.”
Earlier, the State Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Tpl. Wasiu Anifowoshe stated that since inception, the present administration has paid special attention to the issue of environment, physical planning and housing because they are critical to improvement, preservation and better living condition of the people.
He noted that the state government has embarked on reforms that have helped to bring a lot of improvements to the sector, urging people to abide by the government guidelines before construction to avoid danger.
In his lecture, Mr. Fola Arthur-Worrey, a former Commissioner for Lands in Lagos State, identified policy inconsistency and restructuring as well as lack of true and binding national affordable housing scheme, as factors hindering the provision of affordable housing in the country.
Arthur-Worrey urged governments to consider trends and disparities in income and wealth in policy formulation to address the challenges of affordable housing.
“Governments should put in place rent control legislation and control to curb landlord’s excesses and protect the rights of tenants. They should also improve economic output and income for people to be able to cater for their housing challenges,” he said.
Director, United Nations Information Centre, Lagos, Mr. Rowland Kayalga commended the government for its efforts in ensuring an inclusive, safe, resilient, sustainable, affordable and accessible housing for residents.
“Of all the states in Nigeria, only Lagos State commemorates World Habitat Day, as such, I am calling on other states to emulate Lagos so as to bring to the front burner the housing challenges in the nation.
“Your greener and cleaner Lagos initiative, improved urban planning and slum upgrade are in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This is commendable,” he concluded.