Exploring Avenues for Affordable Housing for the Urban Poor
By Umar Shuaibu
Just like any other urban area, Abuja City cannot survive without the urban poor, who overwhelmingly constitute the labour force sustaining the City. Unfortunately, rather than living in the city where they earn their livelihood, majority of the labour force of the Federal Capital City live outside. This is because the multiple housing estates available are exotic, mostly not tailored for the affordability of the ordinary citizens who belong to the low income group.
The solution for the ordinary citizen is to explore where housing rents are affordable, or where they can out rightly building of their houses at affordable rates. This is what is responsible for the people living at Suleja, Madalla, Mararraba and Masaka, and their surrounding suburbs, in Niger and Nasarawa States. This is the major reason for the lack of hustle and bustle city life in the City at weekends and public holidays.
The basic elements of housing that determines affordability are land, finance, infrastructure, building materials and labour. Our Government has stopped the direct provision of houses, even if it built, is for sale to recover the investment, either on short or long term bases. In such circumstances, the major areas where the government can directly play key role are land acquisition and the provision of infrastructure, while organized private sector and the community controls the finance, building materials and labour.