By Kofi Anokye
This article becomes the first among the many steps I intend to list in my subsequent articles which the government of the day can consider if affordable housing provision is one of his political goals. Shelter; of course is one of the basic necessities of life and for that matter no amount of campaign promises should change the status quo. We must as a people have decent homes to sleep after school and after close of work when enough jobs have been created at every district level, and our children as well can have their free education.
Many past government have tried unsuccessfully to bridge the housing deficit currently facing the nation but most of them have failed and have even ended up incurring additional financial cost to the nation.
Some have in the past tried on their own to build these houses thinking that could be affordable but in the end they were found to be far too expensive than what the developers who pay taxes and duties on their imported building materials are offering the market. This is an indication of the fact that providing an affordable houses by the government of the day should be done with the renowned players in the industry and not by themselves as politicians.
To buttress this point or not I will like us to take a historical view of the provision of affordable houses by past governments and see how it went:
The PNDC/ NDC one administration led by the former president His Excellency Flt. lt. Jerry John Rawlings succeeded in their effort somehow in the provision of affordable housing and they deserve my recommendations.
The NPP’S first administration led by the ex- president His excellency Mr. Agyekum Kufour on their housing project was a failure since they were left in an uncompleted state thinking that his successor the NDC government will complete them after taken over but they decided to abandon the so called affordable housing projects started by his predecessor. it is obvious that eight years down the line it require structural text if not complete demolition if this current administration will like to take up hence it was a failed project.
The NDC (II) ex-presidents Mills and Mahama led administration on the provision of affordable houses was indeed worse. At first the famous STX SCAM deal which you and I know of the outcome; followed by rather expensive apartment house at Dowenya and some few areas.
From the above it is obvious that we need a paradigm shift of the approach to solving Ghana’s affordable housing deficit. It requires of us a nation to redefine the way forward to solving Ghana’s deficit and hence the first phase of this article.
Ghana’s housing deficit is hovering over 1,000,000 (ONE MILLION, FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND) if not more. My research has shown that most of these people are low income earners hence these proposals:
THE NEED TO DEFINE WHAT AFFORDABLE HOUSES ARE AND THE CLASS OF PEOPLE WHO QUALIFIES TO OWE THOSE HOUSES:
The first step to solving Ghana’s housing deficit is for the government of the day to define what an affordable house is in terms of pricing and the class of people who qualifies to owe those house. This is because affordability is relative and it basically depends on how much one is earning. The class of people who qualifies is also important in the definition else they may be hijacked by the wealthy people in the society who already have them. When this is done it will bring all stake holders of the project; that is the developer, the purchaser, as well as the government and even the land providers into one focal point knowing what they are working for.
BENEFITS TO THE DEVELOPER:
Most developers are confused including myself as to what an affordable house is and what designing and building affordable houses will bring to my business? The benefits are that the developer will know what an affordable house means and the possible benefits of it. With this information, the developer will have to design and probably redesign until such a time when he or she can reach that price tag otherwise he is not in business.
BENEFITS TO THE PURCHASER:
To the purchaser, he becomes aware that if and only if I can get this amount of money or probably earn this income, at least I will be able to get a place to put my head. People will then begin to work hard knowing what they are working for.
BENEFIT TO THE GOVERNMENT OF THE DAY: When affordability is well defined by the government of the day, he can structure policies that will entice the developers into building these affordable houses by providing them with the right kind of incentives such as: low interest rate, low taxes on such houses, infrastructure development assistance such as roads, electricity, and many more.
BENEFITS TO THE LAND OWNERS: knowing the price tag of an affordable house can well inform the the land owners in terms of pricing and if they may want to entice such projects into their communities, they may do that reasonably in terms pricing the land and other benefits that goes with it.
BENEFITS TO ALL OTHER STAKEHOLDERS: Corruption, and allegations of corruption on those projects will be a thing of the past. This is so because project becomes a public information which everyone can asses.
In conclusion, I am of the view that, this first step which forms almost 50% of the solutions to this problem when considered will go a long to improve the housing situation in the country.