Most Kenyans, especially low-income earners, cannot afford to own homes due to the high cost of finance. Expensive mortgages and high interest rates on loans make it impossible for them to access financing.
As a result, most high-end to middle-income housing developments are lying vacant despite a housing deficit estimated at 250,000 units per year.
In 2017, the number of mortgages slowed down, the first decline in the last five years, with many mortgage takers struggling with repayments. Besides, in the last five years, developers have concentrated on the high-end housing segment, ignoring low-income earners.
However, during his New Year address, President Uhuru Kenyatta said this is set to change.
“In the next five years, Kenyans will not only enjoy accessible and affordable healthcare and food, but also affordable and decent homes,” he said, adding that the government would build “half-a-million decent and affordable homes”.
“We will make owning a home an opportunity that every Kenyan of modest income can afford. Home ownership is a path to the middle class, it will now become an accessible part of the Kenyan dream,” said the President.
The government has pursued public-private partnerships to deliver affordable homes and mortgages for Kenyans, and the president reiterated that his government is working in partnership with the private sector to ensure the homes are delivered in the next five years.
“Importantly, the delivery of the new homes will also create hundreds of thousands of new jobs,” the president noted.
The project will start in Nairobi County, where plans are already underway for the county government to embark on the construction.
Late last month, Nairobi Deputy Governor Polycarp Igathe raised concerns over the poor management of land in the county.
POOR LAND USE
“Nairobi has 1,100 hectares of land whose productivity has been tied to poor land use, where 60 per cent of the land is occupied by houses, leaving very little for public amenities – parks, schools, hospitals – and economic development,” he said.
“Of these, 200 houses sit on 300 acres of county land,” said Mr Igathe, citing Kaloleni, Makadara, Jericho and Bahati as some of the places where land had not been well-used, yet the houses are old and their water and sewerage connectivity were strained as a result of the growing population.
This is part of the land where the county government is targeting to build decent housing for Kenyans through affordable tenant-purchase mortgage schemes.
“If we can put up blocks of high-rise flats, we can create decent living spaces and use that land in a productive manner,” said Mr Igathe.
He revealed that county government was at an advanced stage of rolling out the housing project in partnership with the national government and private construction companies.
To transform Kenya, Mr Kenyatta said, his administration would address basic issues: “There are still Kenyans who worry about low income, the cost of food and shelter.
“We will continue to ease the lives of Kenyans through the provision of decent and affordable homes, accessible and affordable healthcare, and usher in a new era of food security,” the President said.