Is there something wrong with the affordable housing plan?


Is there something wrong with the affordable housing plan?
Houses in Nairobi. Photo/File

In Summary

  • The government promises to build 500,000 housing units by 2022 adding that the construction of Park Road where 1,370 units will be put up has already started and the first 300 units will be delivered by October 2019.
  • The government is describing the program as a win – win and poor people will be able to get affordable housing while the private sector makes money.
  • But Prof. Omenya says while investors will be getting unreasonable returns given the incentives given by the government, a huge pool of Kenyans who will have their pay chopped further will surely miss the much promised houses.

A section of Kenyans remain opposed to the government’s move to charge housing levy from employed workers maintaining that it will only create more funds for corrupt individuals to loot.

Experts have gone ahead to pin point areas in the program that could aid stealing of public funds.

But is there something wrong with way the affordable housing program is being handled? Many Kenyans we talked to say YES. They claim it might not serve the people it targeted.

“We think this is one way of stealing our money…,” said Boniface Maingi – Resident, Nairobi.

Another question, will the money serve the purpose it is supposed to serve?

We spoke to Prof. Alfred Omenya, an architect and the CEO of Eco – Build Africa limited who opined that the way the affordable housing scheme has been designed is the way you design a cash cow.

Although the terms of funding are yet to be made public, it is believed that the Kenyan government has handed out generous incentives to lure some of the world’s top financiers into the scheme.

Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development CS James Macharia had in December 2018 said that the project would be too lucrative for investors’ mostly Chinese multinationals to resist.

But there are these incentives that have attracted scrutiny by Prof. Omenya and other experts.

“We have this faceless so called investors and the government is bending backwards to provide these people with everything… we have never seen any government in the world  that gives that level of promise…to investors….

“The so called investors will get free land….will get tax holidays, will get bank guarantees….and if they don’t sell the houses, then the government will back those houses….and who are these investors anyway……,” queried Prof. Omenya.

The government promises to build 500,000 housing units by 2022 adding that the construction of Park Road where 1,370 units will be put up has already started and the first 300 units will be delivered by October 2019.

The government is describing the program as a win – win and poor people will be able to get affordable housing while the private sector makes money.

But Prof. Omenya says while investors will be getting unreasonable returns given the incentives given by the government, a huge pool of Kenyans who will have their pay chopped further will surely miss the much promised houses.

“You qualify to join a lottery… you qualify to join a lotto….and yes supposed you win a lotto…. Do you get a house? No….. It qualifies you to get a debt, a mortgage….and will the contribution made be used to pay this debt…no….,” said Prof. Omenya.

According to Prof. Omenya, it will be a daunting task to follow the flow of contributions Kenyans will be making to the fund.

For example according to the government, if you don’t qualify for a house, you get your money back after 15 years. Experts have a problem with this.

“But the same government has cleverly designed this that the employee contribution is 1.5percent and the employers is also 1.5percent….in other words 27 billion will be a direct contribution from the employee….and a similar amount from the employers that entire amount the government is not refunding it…,” he said.

This is a clever scheme by the government to capture this money that the government has no intention of accounting for and many Kenyans are still opposed to the program.

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Story By Enock Sikolia
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