Urban and Rural Development Minister Erastus Uutoni says that he is aware of the cost of houses falling out of reach for many people and that those in the middle to low income categories are struggling to access affordable housing.
At the handover of 33 houses built by the National Housing Enterprise (NHE) through a public-private partnership (PPP) construction model on Monday, Uutoni said it is only when the land is reasonably priced by local authorities that lower-income groups will subsequently be able to afford NHE-constructed houses.
He further said his Ministry, which is responsible for effective and sustainable urban and rural development, including the provision of housing, are supportive of every initiative that delivers affordable housing for citizens, especially those within the low to ultra-law income brackets.
“We are aware of the realities such as the increasing cost of constructing houses, due to the cost of materials, transportation costs, and all other related costs,” he said.
The Minister said these factors are beyond their control and have made it quite challenging to maintain the selling prices of houses at the lowest price tag. He further pleaded with local authorities to offer land to the NHE at the lowest prices possible, so that there is a bit of a reduction in the input cost, and subsequently better selling price.
“We should be least concerned about making money from residential land, but rather focus on what the envisaged housing development projects will bring to the town,” he indicated.
Meanwhile, the NHE Board Chairperson Toska Sem said that although housing provision remains a challenge, the state-owned company with its limited resources constantly finds innovative means to deliver quality and affordable houses with the available means.
Sem further said the market trends have changed, and the company wants to accommodate everyone who walks into its doors seeking a roof over their heads. He said this calls for the realigning of NHE’s housing delivery strategies to the realities on the ground, for example, by providing the most basic shelter for those who are unable to afford fully completed houses with geysers, tiles,and cupboards.
According to her the total value of this housing project N$10 million. The execution of housing programs provides not only the houses but also much needed relief in terms of job opportunities and business development for the residents.
“I am informed that about 100 local jobs were created as part of this project and this is testament to our philosophy of giving back to the communities we operate in,” she said.
The NHE is currently busy with a new housing development projects in towns across the country that will see the company constructing 235 houses.
These towns are Okahao, with 70 houses, Omuthiya with 50 houses, Gobabis with 65houses, Outapi with 26 houses, Ondangwa with 24 houses, Gobabis with 50, and in Windhoek NHE has an informal settlement upgrading programme underway.
Through the PPP model, NHE partners with private investors on a turnkey basis. Under this arrangement, NHE avails land for construction and the final products are sold to customers on the NHE’s waiting list.