The Urban and Rural Development Ministry has announced it will resume three housing programmes, namely the Mass Housing Programme, as well as the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia (SDFN) and Build Together programmes.
These schemes are expected to ease Namibia’s housing backlog, which is currently estimated at over 100 000 housing units.
“The Build Together programme was stopped. The Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia’s financial assistance was also stopped. Now the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia and Build Together programme will resume, because all these were assisted through my ministry,” said Sophia Shaningwa, the Minister of Urban and Rural Development on the sidelines of a recent town hall meeting with President Hage Geingob.
Shaningwa said members of the SDFN approached First Lady Monica Geingos to be their patron, and she agreed. “She (Geingos) will assist me in this venture.”
Shaningwa said the Mass Housing Programme will also continue, but with a new approach. “When we’re talking about the new approach, I want to take you back to when it started, the customers were not consulted to determine their income and affordability levels. That brought complications, as when the units were built they were not affordable.
“That’s why the new approach will be that the customers should first be consulted to determine their income and affordability levels,” Shaningwa explained. She said they would not build houses only to find they have no buyers.
She said it may be difficult, because if the people they intended to benefit from the houses cannot afford the houses they would have to sell to people who can be assisted through commercial banks, which is not the aim of the mass housing project.
“The target of the programme should be the people who are not in a position to be assisted through the commercial banks. If the customer’s loans and subsidies fall below N$500 000 that person will not be taken on by a commercial bank. So a whole lot of people, who are below the N$500 000 mark are in trouble, because they don’t have financial assistance from any commercial bank. Therefore, we need to cater for that category… as this category is also in the majority.”
She said if they have to build houses worth over N$500 000 then they are not addressing the reasons the programme was originally initiated: “The new approach I’m talking about is to take care of people who earn below N$500 000.”
She, however, did not respond to questions regarding the budget for the three housing programmes and the number of houses to be built over the next 12 months.