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.
Blessed with government that has been able to cushion the effects of the nation’s economic recession with prudent management of resources and expenditure on capital projects, 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.
Policy-making 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 taxpayer’s money into judicious use and improve the living standard of Lagosians, the government has already mobilized 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. As a form of redistributive policy, Ijora Badiya, Imota, Ayobo , Idale (Badagry), Ilamoye-Isolo , Abijo, Tolu (Ajegunle) , Abule Ado, Ikota , Ibeshe, Owutu and Igbogbo have been listed as areas where the Jubilee Housing Estates would to be sited.
Under the Ambode administration, government has dedicated a total of 5008 housing units in 12 housing estates spread over the three Senatorial Districts of the state. Lagosians could recall that in December, 2016, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode launched the Rent-To-Own and Rental housing Policies aimed at ensuring that all Lagosians irrespective of status, income and affiliations have access to decent shelter in order to improve their quality of life.
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% 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 5% 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.
Contrary to views and comments gathered on the streets and across some online media platforms which revealed that some Lagosians are skeptical on the credibility and sincerity of the process and allocation system that would produce the winners of these houses, the fact and the truth is that one does not need to know anybody in government before one could benefit from the programme.
All that is required for eligibility is for prospective allottee to possess a LASRRA Card, reside in Lagos State, be above 21 years, have a steady source of income, be a taxpayer as well as a guarantee that 33% of monthly income covers the monthly repayment.
Interestingly, the initiative is not just about making people home owners but giving them homes in a clean, safe and live-able environment. All the schemes are developed in serene and beautiful gated communities with facilities such as water treatment plants, adequate parking space, health care centre, estate management office, street lights, recreational area and a police post for security.
As part of moves to demonstrate the sincerity of the administration on promise made and kept, keys were handed over to the first set of allottees comprising 100 people on Monday February 20. Since then, the second batch comprising 200 allottees and the third batch also comprising 200 allottees received keys on
March 31 and April 20 respectively. This implies that within the last few days, a total of 500 proud home owners have been produced by this policy. By extension, not less than 2500 people have been provided shelter if calculated at an average of five persons per family.
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.
The state government has equally continued to intervene in real estate transaction matters including tenancy and rent through the Lagos State Real Estate Transaction Department (LASRETRAD) established in 2012 under the Office of Special Adviser on Housing.
Government intention with this is that residents are protected in the course of real estate transactions and that all players comply with Lagos State Tenancy Law, Criminal Law and other legislations on landed property transactions.
Musbau is of Features Unit, Lagos State Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.