Affordable housing is a pipe dream for many Kenyans. This is why there is a proliferation of informal settlements with 61 per cent of urban dwellers living in overcrowded one-room houses with inadequate ventilation in slums.
The country needs two million more low-income homes and, according to the experts, building them would greatly boost its economic growth. This, incidentally, is also one of the pillars of President Kenyatta’s ‘Big Four Agenda’, in which he seeks to cement the legacy of his administration before his second and final five-year tenure ends in 2022.
The first phase of the government’s affordable housing programme has just been completed in Nairobi with only 228 units ready for occupation. The next 400 units are expected to be ready in June and the final phase by year-end. This is a drop in the ocean as the government hopes to build 500,000 units by 2022.
There is a need for policies to make housing more affordable for many Kenyans, as stipulated in the Constitution, the National Development Plan and the Kenya Vision 2030 strategy. These blueprints have targeted the provision of 200,000 housing units annually.
This housing shortage continues to rise due to various factors.
The inaccessibility of affordable housing finance is one. The country ought to explore the possible role of the popular saccos movement to bridge the gap. Another solution is to develop public-private partnerships (PPPs) for affordable housing. The private sector can provide the funds with the government creating the right environment for lenders and developers. This should include improving access to land, providing basic infrastructure, and easing title transfers.