Minister of Urban and Rural Development Sophia Shaningwa has urged beneficiaries of the newly-handed over housing units not to sell them for the first ten years of tenancy and not to erect shacks around the mass house properties in order to keep the area spick and span.
Shaningwa was speaking at the site of newly constructed NHE mass house units in Rundu where she handed over 22 of 64 completed mass houses built under the mass housing programme.
“It is advisable that because we want to build beautiful towns, like this beautiful town of Kavango East Region, it is perhaps advisable that no shack should be erected around these properties. Then we will keep our houses very beautiful,” she said.
She further told the beneficiaries it is an instruction and order from Cabinet that the ownership of the properties cannot be changed for the next 10 years and in the event that a beneficiary wishes to sell their house government should be given the first option to buy it.
“Please don’t sell your houses, as you will not be allowed to do so by the Cabinet decision, because if you sell your house it will mean you will go again and stand in the queue and ask again from your government to be assisted.
“We do not want to go backwards, we want to go forward. So, if you are given a house, be with your house and if you do not want it leave it for the children don’t sell it please,” she said during the official handover on Wednesday.
Former president Hifikepunye Pohamba introduced the mass house programme as an means to reduce the housing backlog affecting low income and ultra-low income earners. The housing backlog is estimated to be over 100 000 units country wide and in Rundu the backlog is estimated to be around 30 000.
However, the programme encountered various challenges during the first phase of implementation, which resulted in the programme being halted last year to sort out the identified obstacles, as well as to align it with the priorities and respurces of the new administration.
After the remedial action by government the programme resumed in the current restructured format. Shaningwa said government is fully committed to the provision of housing and shelter that is not only decent, but also affordable, to the Namibian people.
“However, looking at the income levels of our customers it is clear that the houses that are constructed here – as you are seeing them – are expensive and many low-income earners will not qualify to buy these houses without a discount,” she stated.
“It is against these financial facts that I am pleased to inform you that Cabinet has approved that government discounts the selling price of the social houses, to ensure that the houses built under the mass housing development programme are affordable to the target group of low-income earners… [meaning] a person earning a minimum of N$2 700 will now be able to afford what we call a Core 5 house – and that Core 5 [house] costs only N$90,000,” she noted.
She further said government will ensure that individuals earning below the above-mentioned income threshold will still be assisted through the Build Together programme and the Shack Dwellers Federation through established procedures.
The least expensive social houses will be financed through the local authorities, following the Build Together programme procedures, while the sale of the bigger and expensive houses will be facilitated through the National Housing Enterprise (NHE), making use of commercial banks.
Around 64 housing units are ready to be occupied by beneficiaries and 124 more are currently under construction as part of the second phase of the mass house programme in Rundu.