The Family Home Fund (FHF) says there is hope and huge potential in cooperative housing to increase homeownership level in Nigeria, pointing out that cooperatives, in an organised sector, can be transformational enablers of affordable housing delivery particularly to low and middle income earners.
Cooperative housing seeks to deliver housing by getting people together as cooperators, pool resources together and fund housing developments, thus reducing the burden of individual financing of housing development and increasing affordability.
Femi Adewole, managing director of FHF pointed out in Abuja recently that Nigeria has lessons to learn from other countries on co-operative housing. “Nigeria can replicate what other housing cooperatives in other parts of the world are doing,” said Adewole who spoke at a workshop organised by Nigeria Integrated Social Housing (NISH) in collaboration with FHF in Abuja.
He cited the Urban Housing Cooperative in India which owns about 4.5 million homes between them over the last 10 years, stressing that Nigeria must make the cooperatives very strong vehicles for reliable and affordable housing delivery in the country.
Adewole noted that there were about 2,600 housing cooperatives in Pakistan which have, since inception in 1972, produced about 27 million homes with strong membership, adding that there were 5,700 housing cooperatives in Zimbabwe with significant number of members as women who are responsible for almost 80 per cent of housing delivery in that country.
The managing director assured that, as a social housing programme initiated by the federal government to provide inexpensive mortgages for low-income individuals and families across the country, the FHF was poised to boost the cooperative housing market in Nigeria.
Under the FHF scheme, which is domiciled in the federal ministry of finance, civil servants who earn salary of 30,000 and above can have access to mortgages to own a home. The fund is a special purpose vehicle for financial institutions primarily set up to facilitate the production of about 500, 000 homes and to create over 1.5 million jobs.
“The fund is very new but has been running effectively in the past nine months. It has four pillars of funds to achieve home ownership, namely Affordable Housing Fund, Home Loans Assistance Funds, Rental Housing Fund and Land and Infrastructure Fund”, Adewole disclosed.
He believes that the objectives of cooperative housing could be achieved by developing capacity in the market with workshops to identify support for capacity base for a set of cooperatives with set goals.
“We can also achieve our objectives by identifying the capacity gaps that hinders cooperatives from playing central role in affordable housing delivery and then strive to bridge them”, he posited.
Benson Iyohmere, former managing director, Police Mortgage Bank, also highlighted the role of cooperatives in affordable housing delivery, saying that since government could not adequately provide direct housing to people in need of shelter, cooperative housing should be the alternative means.
He pointed out that one of the reasons Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) could not reach out to many workers was because of non-remittance of the National Housing Fund (NHF) contributions by some employers.