By Kazeem Ugbodaga
With burgeoning population of over 22 million, Lagos is faced with housing challenge. On daily basis people migrate from every nooks and crannies of Nigeria to Lagos without ever thinking of leaving, thus compounding the housing challenge. Undoubtedly, shelter is one of the three basic necessities of life, others being food and clothing. Adequate housing includes secure land title, access to basic services and Infrastructure like water, electricity and sanitation.
Providing adequate housing has always been a challenge in the State in view of rapid urbanisation which has led to tremendous increase in population even though the State has the smallest land mass of 3,577 square kilometre in the nation. The housing deficit in Lagos is put at three million.
Thus, the strategy of the present administration of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode towards solving the housing challenges is to tackle the issues from both the supply and the demand ends while at the same time ensuring the sustainability of existing Estates. In order to boost supply towards reducing the housing deficit, the Ministry of Housing has prioritised the completion of on-going housing Estates while at the same time entering into partnership with the private sector in the delivery of new Housing Estates.
On the demand side, government has introduced the rent-to-own and rental housing policies which are aimed at making housing more readily affordable and accessible to the citizenry. The policies are particularly targeted at low and middle income earners in both the formal and informal sectors. In order to ensure the sustainability of government housing Estates, the Ministry has appointed Facility Managers for some of its Estates while other Estates are expected to have Facility Managers soon. This is to arrest deterioration of the Estates.
State Commissioner for Housing, Prince Gbolahan Lawal said the housing deficit in Lagos had been put at three million. He explained that government’s deficit figure was based on empirical evidence.
“We commissioned a survey in 2013 and that survey reveals to us that the deficit that exists in Lagos was 2,550,000. If you look at the growth rate, our assumption is based on the growth rate, we just believe that it will be like three million. Now, the growth rate is about 3% on increase in population yearly in Lagos; in four years, if you have 3% growth rate, what will it be? We assumed that the deficit will be like three million. If you consider what government is doing and what other private developers are putting up, one could infer that, some people are even leaving Lagos for other neigbouring states, that is our projection,” he said.
The commissioner said the government is doing a lot to bridge the housing gap so that several residents of the state could be made to own their homes. He said housing deficit came about because of “inadequate houses, people living in informal houses, people living in crowded houses and then people that are financially stressed due to the housing cost. With that, we have been able to see that two to four factors are responsible for this deficit. As government, we are constructing directly and we have about 6,000 housing units precisely, out of which 5,008 are being dedicated to Rent-to-Own because deficit is a factor of stretching the financial capacity of the people.
“The rent-to-own policy came about when you look at the survey conducted in 2016 by the state government which was done by the Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget. That report is what we tagged: ‘Demographic Dividend.’ That Demographic dividend reveals to us that the youth population (18-55 years) was about 65 percent of the population of Lagos.
“There was also economic recession in Nigeria, so we were compelled because of different report that if we really want to reduce housing deficit or we want to improve the affordability of our people to housing, we must come up with a model that will be able to increase the number of Lagosians that have come to the home ownership bracket. With that 5 percent commitment fees, a lot of people will be able to come in.”
Lawal said on Thursday, 8 December, 2016, the Governor. Akinwunmi Ambode formally launched the Rent-To-Own and Rental housing Policies aimed at ensuring that all Lagosians irrespective of status, income and affiliations had access to decent shelter in order to improve their quality of life. He said prior to this time, the mortgage option under the Lagos Home Ownership Mortgage Scheme (Lagos HOMS) was the cheapest means of becoming a Lagos State housing unit owner.
“This entails a deposit of 30% as equity contribution while payment of the balance in monthly installments is spread over a period of 10 years. However, it was observed that many of our young adults and low income earners were unable to come up with the deposit. Under the Rent-To-Own policy, individuals are required to pay only 5% of the cost of the housing unit as the commitment fee and the balance is spread over a period of 10 years. This policy allows allottees to live in the property, while paying towards ownership at a fixed rent over the 10 year period,” he explained.
According to him, government dedicated a total of 5,008 housing units in 12 housing estates spread over the three Senatorial Districts of Lagos State to the scheme. The Estates are: Sir Micheal Otedola Estate, Odoragunshin, Epe, 336 units; Chois City, Agbowa, 400 units; Alhaja Adetoun Mustapha Estate, Ojokoro, 32 units; Hon, Olaitan Mustapha Estate, Ojokoro, 48 units; Oba Adeboruwa Estate, Igbogbo- Ikorodu, 256 units; Egan-Igando Housing Estate, Alimosho, 684 units; Igando Gardens, Igando, Alimosho, 492 units; Igbogbo IIB Housing Estate, Igbogbo Ikorodu, 360 units; Odo- Onosa/ Ayandelu, 660 units; Iponri Estate, Surulere, 132 units; Sangotedo Estate, Sangotedo, Eti- Osa, 1,188 units and Ajara Estate, Badagry, 420 units.
He said that the programme, however, commenced with Sir Michael Otedola Estate, Odoragunshin, Epe, Chois City, Oba Adeboruwa Estate, Igbogbo, Alhaja Adetoun Mustapha Estate, Ojokoro and Hon. Olaitan Mustapha Estate, Ojokoro which were ready for immediate habitation. Lawal said so far, keys had already delivered to 500 new home owners out of the 4,355 that would be available.
“It should be emphasized that the Rent-To-Own policy is for every resident of Lagos State irrespective of State of origin, profession, gender, religion and status, as long as the applicant is 21 years old and above. He should also meet up with the eligibility criteria,’ he said. Keys were handed over to the first set of allottees comprising 100 people on Monday, 20 February, 2017. Since then, the second batch comprising 200 allottees and the third batch also comprising 200 allottees received keys on 31st March, 2017 and 20th April, 2017 respectively.
“This implies that within the last 60 days, a total of 500 proud home owners have been produced by this policy. By extension, not less than 2500 people have been provided shelter if calculated at an average of 5 persons per family.The Rent-To-Own policy is not just about provision of shelter, it is also about economic stimulation and empowerment. The new homes provided will require furniture and home gadgets such as electrical/ electronic appliances etc. The increase in demand for these items is expected to stimulate production and consequently economic growth,” he explained.
Lawal buttress the fact that the Rent-To-Own programme is currently the cheapest and the easiest means of becoming a property owner in Lagos State, disclosing that over 12,000 applications were collected by interested Lagosians, adding that 1,420 applicants were from sectors such as the public service; construction; banking and finance and informal.
Another housing programme of the state government is the Rental Housing Policy. The scheme was launched on Thursday, 8 December, 2016. The scheme allows the tenants to occupy government housing units, paying monthly rents after an initial one month deposit.
On this, Lawal explained that the policy was targeted at persons with regular source of income who might be more interested in rental housing than home ownership. He said 20% of the units dedicated to the Rent-To- Own policy were reserved for rental housing.
Despite the various housing policies to bridge the housing deficits, funding has remained a key challenge. With various sectors competing for attention, the need to look somewhere else for fund becomes imperative. To this end, the state government is engaging the Public-Private Partnership, PPP, initiative to churn out more houses for the masses.
According to Lawal, towards the sustenance of the Rent-To-Own policy and high demand for housing units by Lagosians, the government in partnership with private developers is constructing 20,000 housing units in the next five years under the Lagos Affordable Public Housing (LAPH). He said government had approved joint venture partnership with six developers who had already mobilised to sites .
“The Estates, to be christened Jubilee Housing Estates in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of creation of the State are sited in areas such as Ijora Badiya, Imota, Ayobo , Idale (Badagry), Ilamoye-Isolo, Abijo, Tolu (Ajegunle) , Abule Ado, Ikota , Ibeshe, Owutu and Igbogbo. Towards the completion of Ilubirin Housing Estate ,approval was granted for the remodelling of the Estate from hitherto purely residential into a mixed development of residential, commercial and leisure through Public Private Partnership (PPP).
“The Ministry continues to receive expressions of interest from private developers to partner with government in the area of mass housing delivery. These are being considered and it is hoped that more private developers will be granted approval soon,” Lawal explained.
A key challenge in the housing sector in Lagos is the dearth of skill craftsmanship. As a result, foreigners have taken over the jobs meant for Nigeria. In a bid to address this malaise, the state government adopted a new policy initiative tagged: the “Master Craftsman Project” intended to redress the dearth of skilled workers in the building industry such as masons, carpenters, steel fabricators, plumbers, electricians, painters, joiners, tillers and the likes.
To this end, Lawal said it would appear that the Nigerian Housing and Construction Industry is becoming more and more dependent on foreigners to fill the skill gap created as the nation’s trained artisans gradually aged out with no sufficient new ones being trained to replace them.
“In order to correct the above anomalies, the “Lagos State Master Craftsmen Project” was introduced as government intervention. This is being done in collaboration with relevant professional bodies such as the Nigerian Institute of Builders (NIOB) and the Lagos State Technical and Vocational Education Board (LASTVEB).
“Under the programme, artisans were trained for a period of six weeks at LASTVEB Technical Centres in Ikotun, Ikorodu and Epe. The artisans were trained on new approaches in the built environment. The first set of craftsmen in year 2016 were trained in skills, such masonry, furniture and carpentry, plumbing and pipe-works, electrical installations, painting and decorations. The training syllabus was based on the National Vocational Qualification Framework (NVQF) designed by National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) and Nigeria Institute of Building (NIOB).
“The trainings were delivered by qualified and certified trainers across trade drawn from NIOB, Council of registered Builders of Nigeria (CORBON) and LASTVEB. In year 2016, 200 Craftsmen were trained in various trades. In line with the design of the training, craftsmen at the end of the programme were presented with tools of their trades during the graduation ceremony. The next batch of 600 have registered with the Ministry for the 2017 training which will commence in May 2017. Our partners in the Private Sector have also expressed their willingness to train a minimum of 400 craftsmen in year 2017,” he explained.
He added that the craftsmen who graduated under the Master Craftsman project were expected to be provided job opportunities in the various construction sites of the ministry and also in maintenance works across the ministry’s Housing Estates. In addition, Lawal said a database of all certified Lagos State Master Craftsmen had been created for ease of reference for all Lagosians.
The commissioner said the state government would not rest on its oars and would continue to do more in making sure that more Lagosians had access to home ownership and then “we will continue to work out for our houses to be affordable. We will also make sure we provide the enabling environment to ensure that the ease of doing business is improved so that we can have more private developers to come and invest in Lagos.
“People must see reasons that there should be affordability. Once you have steady job and income, you are sure of getting a home because they will do direct debit and that will make you stay on your job. This government is real, we are transparent and the rent-to-own is for all and not for a particular set of people,” he stated.