Experts under the auspices of the Association of Housing Corporation of Nigeria (AHCN) have bemoaned the increasing housing shortage, acute problem of housing availability, accessibility and affordability for the low and medium income earners without corresponding actions to match the demand in the country.

Expressing concerns over these at the just concluded two-day National Workshop on ”Facilitating Affordable Housing For Low and Medium Income Earners” combined with its 108thCouncil Meeting held in Jos, Plateau State, the experts called for urgent collaboration among stakeholders with realistic strategies to directly address the housing needs of the people and, at the same time, create and empower them to reduce unemployment in the society.

In a communiqué made available to Nigerian Tribune at the end of the meeting, the stakeholders, having identified mass rental housing as untapped viable option for sustaining housing corporations in order to reduce the impact of housing shortage for the low-income group, urged all state governments to support their state housing agencies in driving rental housing across Nigeria to take care of the segment that could not afford outright purchase of homes through Family Homes Funds’ window.

The communiqué was signed by AHCN’s President, Dr. Victor Onukwugha and its Secretary General, Mr Olusesan Obe, respectively.

The experts commended Plateau State Government for cutting down land charges by 50 per cent as part of efforts in making housing affordable for the low and medium income earners in the state.

They appealed to other state governments to emulate Plateau State in creating conducive environment to make affordable housing available for citizens.

The also condemned in strong term non-compliance of commercial and merchant banks, insurance companies and Federal Government to the statutory regulations that mandated them to contribute certain percentage of their incomes to the National Housing Fund (NHF), callimg for immediate implementation of this statutory contribution to create strong financial base for the NHF to meet and adequately cater for the loans request of the low and medium income groups.

The experts attributed defective strategies as well as non-execution of public housing programmes based on the overall framework of the national housing policy for widening housing deficit in the country, calling on governments both at the federal and state levels to declare state of emergency on housing deficit by embarking on social housing with workable implementation and practical solutions that suit the social system to halt the trend.

The housing corporations’ egg-heads also bemoaned the increasing rural-urban migration culminating in continued food insecurity and putting pressure on unemployment and infrastructures in urban centres as well as retarding overall national development.

They reiterated their earlier call for the establishment of the Agric-villages and farm settlements in all local governments across the country as panacea for addressing and resolving food production shortages and housing deficit thereby creating job opportunities for millions of jobless youths across the country.

The meeting recognised the inherent opportunities in business partnerships in developing business synergies and strategic alliances to reduce cost and expand into new markets in housing provision and calls for effective partnership models and synergies between Family Homes Funds and the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria to enhance development funding and wholesale mortgage lending and origination to reduce housing shortfall in Nigeria.

The experts commended the recent FMBN’s review of the off-takers guarantee which has made it acceptable and bankable in favour of housing corporations to enable them access construction loans from commercial banks.  They called on all state governments to support their housing corporations to take advantage of these opportunities for mass housing projects.

They called the government to speed up the adoption of legal framework for judicial enforcement of mortgages and foreclosure legislations to boost investors’ confidence and streamline bureaucracies in the Nigeria’s mortgage market.

The enjoined  governments and all Nigerians to embrace and support the use of local building materials as appropriate alternative for addressing affordable housing for low and medium earners in Nigeria.

“State governments are encouraged to set up pilot scheme of local building materials plants in all the state of the federation where such materials are available to encourage development as well as economic, social and environmental sustainability and general acceptance of local building materials in Nigeria,” the communiqué read.

Source : Nigerian Tribune