One of the most essential needs of people everywhere in the world is adequate housing. This is recognized by the United Nations, and is emphasized in its Istanbul Charter. Thus, governments are encouraged to facilitate their citizens' acquisition of Adequate shelter. We are pleased to share lessons from The Mubarak Youth Housing Project as a Case Study of policy intervention to increase home ownership.
Started in 1996 and completed in December 2000, the Mubarak Youth Housing Project comprised 70,000 units distributed in 15 Egyptian cities. With a maximum density of 120 persons per acre and a height of five floors,the designs allow for ample green areas, parking spaces and social services, and cost 2.75 billion EGP (0.5 billion USD).
Mubarak Housing Project : Image Credit : The Arab Contractors
Initially, Soft loans of 15,000 EGP(2,730 USD) per unit payable over 40 years at five per cent interest rate were offered by the government, with the main beneficiaries of the project being the youth. Indeed, young people have particular affordability problems when it comes to purchasing a house; earnings are lower for those who have recently entered the labour market and all have had less time to save for the down-payment.
The Future Housing Project was launched in March 1998 and planned to build 70,000 units in three phases over six years. The first phase of 15,000 units was completed by 2001, with the private sector meeting 50 per cent of the cost and the government the remainder. Soft loans were also offered: 14,000 EGP (2,550 USD) per unit,payable over 40 years, at an interest rate of five per cent.
The Major Constraints and Solutions in Delivery of Low-Cost Housing ( as listed by Dr. Ayman Nour Afify)
Many constraints still effectively hinder the provision of adequate housing and housing development in developing countries including:-
1. Lack of effective implementation strategies
that harness the full potential of all actors in housing production.
2. Poor promotion of security of tenure:
Governments should focus on regularization schemes and elimination of slums and illegal settlements. This will be an incentive for families to invest in their homes.
3. Inadequate supply of affordable land.
Proper records and automation of land registry can trigger increase in home ownership. A good case is the Syokimau Mlolongo Brothers case where would-be home owners lost money to fraudulent land transactions.
4. Inadequate infrastructure and services:
Provision of adequate infrastructure like roads, water, electricity and security has been a major impediment to home ownership in rural peri-urban areas. It also leads to congestion in the cities.
5. Lack of adequate housing finance mechanisms.
Governments should be at the forefront of developing financial institutions and instruments. Existing products providing solutions should be strengthened and supported.
6. Utilization of local building materials and technologies to ease the housing pressure.
Research by bodies like UN-Habitat and Universities on Low-Cost Housing should be disseminated to potential users.
7. Government should offer support to small-scale players
in the low-cost housing market and help "Scale Up" their operations if they offer tangible results.
8. Government through the Ministry of Housing should be at the forefront of promoting Cooperative models of acquiring and operating construction equipment
such as Brick Making Machines, Tile Making Machines, Window & Door Fabric. It should offer credit mechanisms and subsidies to such initiatives
9. Promotion of community participation and self-help.
Both the Government and Private Sector can help guide this process in a mutually beneficial manner. Successful community participation requires support!
10. Initiation of experimental pilot projects:
Experimental projects with new standards for subdivision and building materials with semi-serviced and non-serviced plots can also be initiated. Such experiments can facilitate the learning process for up scaling.
I trust this are important lessons we can all learn and implement despite the current winds of change blowing in Egypt.
1. UNCHS, 2001a; UN-HABITAT, 2005.
2. Improvements in Low-Cost Housing Conditions: Policies and Constraints in Egyptian Context- Dr. Ayman Nour Afify
3. Affordable Land and Housing in Africa, Volume 3: UN-Habitat, 2011