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NHE defends skeletal housing model

by Kelvin Chiringa

The National Housing Enterprise (NHE) has defended the “skeletal housing model” as viable despite it being frowned upon by some quarters which deem it as not fit for decently accommodating people.

The Skeletal house model is a low-cost solution that provides for a one-bedroom house without a ceiling, tiles, geyser and other cosmetic often luxurious accessories.

Speaking to The Villager at an Infrastructure, Urban Development and Finance Conference courtesy of Lithon Project Consultants, NHE said skeleton houses can still be utilised for acquiring loans as collateral security.

“Remember a skeleton house is a tradable asset that you can take to a bank and probably borrow money to generate wealth to help you as well to grow that house,” said Eric Libongani, manager of corporate communication and marketing at NHE.

He said the model has been an NHE project for a very long time and has been in fact implemented on every project that they have constructed.

“But it comes with a bonus as well where you have a plan of a bigger house given to you. I must give comfort to the public that we continue doing that,” he was quick to say.

The mental orientation towards this model which has generated scorn continues to be a challenge, but NHE believes that the houses save only as a starting point.

“There is this perception that those houses are too small although they are meant for you to progress as your income progresses. People are saying those are match-boxes. That is why we have not built as many of those houses as we would have done,” said Libongani.

He said the way forward would be to go down to the communities and educate them on how the cost of land and houses is a function of people’s income and therefore owning a house one can afford makes financial sense.

“If your income level can afford you at that time to have a skeleton house, you must accept it because it will give you room to progress. That Namibian dream where you need a four bedroom Olympia house whereas your income is not commensurate to producing such a structure is where the problem is,” he said.

Meanwhile, town planning expert from R Khiba Town Planers, Riita Khiba has said the government should start to gravitate away from the old apartheid manner of town planning by desisting from forcing people on 300 to 600 square meters event.

“Before independence, the land was generously distributed, that is in your Pionierspark, Eros, the other side of town. But when you go to Katutura it’s a different story altogether. What we are saying is look, not everyone can afford the 2000 and 8000 square meters, let’s create for all different types of choices. But now if we don’t even sit down to talk about how we are going to redress the situation that has been created by the apartheid system, we will keep on seeing what was happening in the past,” she said.

She said there is a need for a policy statement that directly speaks to how that paradigm shift is going to be made.