How retired teachers from Kakamega are benefiting from decent housing

Wednesday March 18 2020

Mr Isigi, Nachu's Western region director at the site of one of the houses under construction. PHOTO| FILE


With the loan advanced by Nachu, members begin by building a starter house

Retired teachers from Kakamega Municipal Housing Co-operative are set to benefit from affordable and decent houses, with 18 units of phase one now complete.

The Sh246 million project by National Cooperative Housing Union (Nachu), mainly targeted at retired teachers and civil servants, will see them own three-bedroom houses at between Sh899,000 and Sh2million per unit.

The 123 units are coming up at Mwalimu Estate in Rosterman, Kakamega County, complete with piped water and electricity. For members to qualify to build, each of them had to raise Sh210,000.
Nachu loaned them the remaining amount to get started. Eighteen members raised the amount, with some raising more.

Phased construction

Upon completion, the houses will all have three bedrooms, a sitting room, bathroom area and a kitchen.
However, they are being built incrementally as starter units of two rooms, a toilet and bathroom. Beneficiaries will build the remaining rooms once they have raised enough funds.

“This is a blessing to us because owning a three-bedroom house in Kakamega is a daunting task for many middle-to-low income earners. Buying one would have cost us between Sh4 million and Sh6.5 million while building one will costs not less than Sh3 million. This is why many in Kakamega live in rented houses,” says Mr Samuel Isigi, Nachu’s Western region director.

He adds that demand for houses in the town is on the rise, especially with the opening of universities and other companies, leading to an increased population of students and employees, all in need of accommodation.

Birthed from shock
Kakamega Municipal Housing Co-operative was formed in 1985, after Mr Isigi, contested and was elected a Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) official in the town.

After visiting some of the 300 teachers in their homes to thank them for voting for him, he was shocked by their living conditions.

“They were living in homes which nobody would want to write home about. I decided to do something about it. That is how the idea of the municipal housing was birthed — to afford teachers decent and affordable housing as well as extra income.”

Mr Isigi told DN2: “Two hundred teachers joined the co-operative and began saving as little as Sh200 per month. That amount was too little and they increased it to Sh400 per month, but still, they could not do much with that amount.”

The local municipal gave the housing co-op 634 hectares in 1991, but they were unable to develop the land even after some members raised their saving to Sh1,000 per month in 2009.

In 2015, members started saving with Nachu, which agreed to give them loans to build houses. After the land was sub-divided, only 123 of 220 members benefited. The remaining 97 bought land elsewhere.

One of the beneficiaries of the 18 units is 70-year-old Alice Nawire Mulaku, a retired primary schoolteacher, who was earning Sh20,000 per month.

“I retired in 2004 and have been living off my monthly pension of Sh12,800, proceeds from farming, and the small businesses I run in the market selling simsim, vegetables and second-hand clothes.

After retirement, I rented a three-bedroom house in Amalemba Site and Service Scheme, where I was paying Sh3,500 per month as rent.

Built in phases
“By the time I was leaving the scheme in 2011, the rent had gone up to Sh7,500,” she says.

After saving Sh100,000 with Nachu, she was able to secure a loan, five times her savings, and that is how she was able to build her three-bedroom house.

It took her seven years to complete the house, because she built in phases.

Mrs Mulaku says she was able to repay Sh13,200 every month of Nachu’ s loan of Sh500,000, from her pension and small businesses in five years, leaving her with enough money for food and other small expenses at home.

“I cannot begin to express my joy of finally being able to own a home. I do not have to worry about rent anymore. The house is spacious, self-contained, and I have a compound where I farm and keep cattle. It has saved me quite a lot of money,” a joyous Mrs Mulaku said.

The scheme members had been unwilling to develop their pieces of land, and it was after their partnering with Nachu that they saw the potential of owning their own homes, she says.
With the loan advanced by Nachu, members begin by constructing a starter house, and will complete the intended design when they are ready.
At the moment, members are repaying their loans with whatever money they are able to raise from whatever means of income they are engaged in, before a harmonised monthly repayment plan is agreed upon.
“I am still repaying my loan using my pension money, and what I raise from farming and small businesses. I will rent out the house if need be, in order to get money to repay the loan fully,” she says.
There are 22 members of the co-operative who have already raised Sh210,000 for the next phase.
The union also has plans to build a primary school, a level four hospital and shopping mall in the estate.