Babatunde Fashola, a former Minister of Works and Housing, has called for a renewed focus on expanding rent-to-own schemes as part of a comprehensive strategy to tackle homelessness in Nigeria.
Addressing the ongoing 50th-anniversary celebration of the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) on Thursday, Fashola emphasized prioritising rental housing alongside homeownership initiatives. He noted that financial constraints hinder many individuals from purchasing homes outright, making rent-to-own programs a crucial solution.
“Homelessness is the most undignifying experience for a human being and must be confronted with the necessary resolve by political leaders and policymakers,” Fashola asserted. “The sad but painful truth is that not everybody will be able to afford to buy a house, but I strongly believe that rental housing for all is possible, not only based on how we build but also how people pay rent.”
The former minister advocated for enhancing existing rent-to-own schemes at both the federal and state levels. He also urged increased advocacy among state legislators to enact laws that streamline rent payments, aligning them with wages and salaries.
“Instead of abandoning the rent-to-own initiatives that started in the last administration, there is scope for improvement in expanding these schemes at Federal and State levels,” Fashola stated. “We must also increase advocacy for state legislators to make laws that make the payment of rent convenient and convergent with wages and salaries.”
Regarding financing, Fashola proposed a shift towards more flexible and innovative models. He suggested exploring alternative financing options, such as diaspora bonds and mortgages tailored to the informal sector, to expand access to homeownership.
Regarding housing types, Fashola advocated focusing on smaller, more affordable units that cater to the needs of young professionals and families with limited resources. He also encouraged the development of mixed-income housing projects to foster social integration and reduce segregation.
Fashola proposed exploring cost-effective construction methods and leveraging technology to streamline processes and reduce administrative costs to address affordability concerns. He also emphasized the importance of public-private partnerships in mobilizing resources and expertise for housing development.
Regarding people participation, Fashola advocated for greater involvement of communities in the planning and implementation of housing projects. He stressed the need to incorporate local knowledge and preferences to ensure that housing solutions are tailored to the specific needs of each community.
Regarding maintenance, Fashola emphasized the importance of establishing robust maintenance systems to ensure the longevity of housing units. He proposed exploring preventive maintenance strategies and fostering a culture of responsible tenancy to minimize housing deterioration.
Fashola urged the FHA to embrace a more business-oriented approach, adopting sound corporate governance principles aligned with global best practices.