|Windhoek housing crisis can be solved!|
|Written by P. Muteyauli|
|Wednesday, 14 September 2011 22:58|
Windhoek is experiencing a housing crisis as the ministry responsible has failed the nation, while the National Housing Enterprise (NHE) has missed the focus.|
The Windhoek housing problem is simply based on a very basic law of economics, i.e. demand and supply. Naturally, if the demand is high and the supply is low, then the price will go up quite sharply and vice versa. The housing crisis in Windhoek can only be solved by increased supply of land and houses in order to reduce demand. This will eventually lead to price reduction in the real estate market.
Housing is a basic need and is part of one of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as provided in Article 25 of our constitution. The state has the primary responsibility to provide affordable housing to all its citizens in different socio-economic classes.
If one earns less than N$15,000 a month, then chances to own a proper house are zero. Most of the standard houses in Katutura, Otjomuise and Khomasdal cost between N$ 650,000 and N$ 1.2 million. The monthly repayments on these mortgages range between N$ 7,000 to N$ 13,500. How many Namibians can afford such amounts?
University graduates in Windhoek can only afford houses that cost about N$ 300,000. However accommodation rentals are unaffordable. A standard backyard one-bedroom flat cost between N$ 2000 and N$ 3500 a month, and gets even higher as you move to middle or high income neighborhoods. The rental allowance for civil servants is around N$ 450 per month.
The government always claims there is no money for housing, but pumps billions in mismanaged and failing State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs). The NHE’s usual excuse is the lack of serviced land in Windhoek. Instead, they build houses where people can’t even afford them.
The shortage of housing in Windhoek is not difficult to solve. There are a number of advanced examples Namibia could adapt locally.
As a matter of urgency, NHE should build block-flats instead of stand-alone houses that are increasingly becoming unaffordable to the majority. Double-story flats could save space and provide affordable housing to most of the city dwellers. The government should provide adequate financial resources to the City of Windhoek to service more land and avail it to those in need. The City of Windhoek must stop land auctions as it only serves those who are well off.
In addition, the ministry responsible for housing should establish a Housing Solution Board (HSB) comprising of competent professionals and concerned community members to find an immediate and sustainable solution to this artificial problem. This is doable with sufficient political will.