HDAN says solution to housing deficit lies in having enough data

Not until Nigeria produces enough data that will offer dependable information, solution to the housing deficit in the country would continue to be elusive, an Abuja-based housing sector advocacy group has said.

The group, known as Housing Development Advocacy Network (HDAN), identifies lack of data as a major obstacle to first, understanding the size and scope of Nigeria’s housing problem, and then providing the needed solution.

Erejuwa Gbadebo, an architect and MD/CEO, Propose Design & Implement (PDI) Limited, lamented in an interview with BusinessDay that, several years after, Nigeria was still working with 17 million as the size of its housing deficit when many houses have been built and many others destroyed.

“We need to have appropriate data on housing in Nigeria so that we will be able to know whether we are winning or losing the war against this monster called housing deficit,” the chartered architect surmised.

Festus Adebayo, HDAN President, agrees, stressing that “to ensure affordable housing, Nigeria requires data. We need to know how many low income earners are under-housed and in which part of the country they are. What are their housing needs? How much can they afford as house price”? he queried.

“Assuming low-income earners in Nigeria are those workers earning less than N100,000 per month (less than $20 per month), the only way to give these people affordable housing in Nigeria is to provide social housing,” he said.

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According to him, subsidised housing would lead to slum and substandard housing because beneficiaries would not be able to maintain them, explaining that the idea of affordable housing to make sure everybody is accommodated as a right and basic need to thrive.

Adebayo said that social housing is a public asset that is owned and maintained by government, pointing out that the rich in the society contributes, through tax, to the regular maintenance of social housing for low-income earners.

He cited Austria where the government sees housing as a common need of all citizens apart from food and clothing, adding that government also sees housing a form of bridging the gap between the rich and the poor which is why the government of that country is providing social housing for all residents with.

“Austria has achieved 60 percent of its target now and promised to provide government accommodation for all in the year 2030,” he noted.

“Building materials, which are major inputs in the production of housing affect the cost of housing. Nigeria needs a paradigm shift in its current adoption of building materials,” he advised, noting that “since housing is a shelter providing comfort and shielding occupants from the effects of inclement weather, affordable materials such as plastics, clay and timber should be considered.”

Adebayo urged government’s intervention to stem the rising cost of construction materials through supporting use of clay bricks and bamboos.

“Research shows that for low-rise buildings, bamboos can alternatively serve as reinforcement bars. Using bamboo as reinforcement in short beams like lintels and columns are effective in sustaining the shear and tensile strength of concretes,” he stated.

HDAN stressed the need for government to implement effective taxation to discourage acquisition of houses by the few rich in the society, explaining that effective taxation of houses will also curb housing-indiscipline and unnecessary acquisition by the super-rich.

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