A 55-year-old woman, Elizabeth Baumgarten, cried tears of joy when her dream of owning a house became a reality this week. Minister of Urban and Rural Development Sophia Shaningwa yesterday handed keys to a one-bedroom build Together house at a ceremony at Walvis Bay.
Baumgarten, a resident of Narraville who has been living in a room at a local church for years, could not afford a house, as she earns very little and could neither afford to rent. She was in fact homeless before the church came to her rescue. She said although she applied for a house she did not expect such a miracle, at least not so soon. “I never thought I would own a house one day. This is my Christmas gift. I am so thankful to the government and the Municipality of Walvis Bay for making my dream come true,” Baumgarten said.
Shaningwa said dreams such as hers can become a reality and that shacks can also become something of the past, if houses for the low- income segment of the community can be built for N$100 000 and less.
According to Shaningwa this simply means the millions that are sometimes being wasted can be used for a good cause, so that cheaper, yet good quality houses can be built for Namibians on low income.
The minister said this when she handed over 33 houses constructed by Walvis Bay Municipality for less than N$100 000 each through the Build Together programme at Narraville.
The quality and cost of the one-bedroom, bathroom and kitchen houses, meant for residents who earn less that N$3000 a month, impressed the minister to such an extent that she vowed to lobby for such standard houses for lower income groups around the country.
“These houses give hope to the homeless, as they are dignified [dwellings]. This shows them that owning a house doesn’t need to remain a pipe dream… I would like to call upon all contractors, it’s not only about making profit, but I am also not saying that people must make a loss.
“However, they should be reasonable so that artificial costs are also not encouraged. These houses could be built for N$100 000. How many houses can we build for N$5 million? I am convinced that if we go this way all these plastic houses will be something of the past,” said the minister.
She said Walvis Bay has indeed provided an example of affordable housing. “This is really the way we should work. Now that I have this information at my disposal, this is what I will advocate for, for those who cannot afford houses,” Shaningwa said.
Shaningwa applauded Walvis Bay Council and its management for living up to the expectations of the government and for responding to President Hage Geingob’s call to make provision for affordable housing and land.
“The handing over of these houses is a clear indication of the promise to provide affordable housing to our people.
“As part of our social contract that the government of Namibia has with her people through various implementing agencies, such as councils and municipalities, it is essential that we deliver on our aims and objectives,” she stated.
It was delightful to join in the excitement of all beneficiaries, who at a stage thought that having a roof over the heads was simply impossible and an unattainable dream, she said.
The Build Together project was decentralised in 1999 at Walvis Bay. The programme was conducted in 16 phases, in which 1 004 residents benefited, while at least 874 houses have been built at the town. Loans allocated through this programme amount to more than N$20 million.