Down payment to lock out original tenants in city housing project

By , People Daily Digital
Friday, July 16th, 2021 00:00 | 3 mins read
Apartment buildings with shared amenities. PD/Courtesy

Residents of the old city estates set to receive a facelift in the affordable housing programme were promised first priority in buying low-cost government houses. However, they are worried that the initial deposit required in the purchase is too high.

A lobby group pushing for humane house allocation process under the Nairobi Urban Renewal Affordable Housing project in one of the 10 old estates in the city targeted for demolition has dismissed down payment demands made by Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) as prohibitive. 

The chairman of Jericho Lumumba Residents Association (JLRA) Walter Ogoli said majority of tenants will be locked out of the allocation if the 10 per cent to12 per cent down payment NMS is pushing for is implemented. 

“Majority of tenants in the estate fall at the bottom rungs of the income ladder.

To demand for such rates means many will be denied houses,” Ogoli told an engagement forum at Charles New Methodist Church attended by NMS deputy director of Urban Renewal Affordable Housing Programme. 

A single bedroom unit under the mortgage scheme will cost Sh1 million, Sh2 million for a two-bedroom unit and Sh3 million for a three-bedroom unit. 

Ogoli noted that the demand that a tenant makes a down payment of Sh300,000 or 10 per cent of the amount signals an intention to deny the card holder the right to own the houses. 

The association also wants, in addition to the 1,388 units NMS says is committed to allocating genuine original card holders, an additional 3,000 units be set aside to benefit siblings of tenants under the affordable housing policy. 

“As a good gesture to the card holders for having been good custodians of the houses and protecting the land around the estate from grabbers for over 60 years, a free three-bedroom house be given as a reward,” said the chairman, recommending that construction begins in open spaces next to St Philip's ACK Church in Lumumba and shift tenants in the neighborhood.  Further proposals by the association vice chairman, Jane Achieng Oloo, included allocation of 150 units as a step to empower the association that will rent out the units at a net income of Sh3 million per month. 

A financier, such as Equity bank is cited as being capable of paying a lump sum to a developer then retain either half or three quarters of the rental income.

It is envisaged the market rent at the time will be Sh10,000 from the 50 one-bedroom units to be reserved for the association, according to Achieng Oloo.

“Income of Sh20,000 rent from 50 units for a two-bedroom house and Sh30,000 income from the 50 reserved three-bedroom units will bring the total to 150 reserved units for the association,” she said. 

Emergence of cartelst

For the sake of sanity and order in the new estate, Achieng raised the possibility of rogue housing brokers and agents bent on making a kill from the houses. 

“The association should be the official housing agent,” she said, adding that it will be charged with the responsibility of waste collection, water, electricity and fixing infrastructure. 

As works to develop units in the city under the affordable housing programme continues, cartels are waiting to strike. 

National Housing Corporation (NHC) has already cautioned Kenyans against fraudsters purporting to allocate and sell the new affordable houses in Park Road, Ngara. 

Agesa Omega, a resident rooted for semi-skilled and skilled residents.   “Let us not import labour from outside.

There are hundreds of young people without a source of livelihood in this neighbourhood,” he said.

He pushed for an inventory of local business people, such as grocery vendors to be taken and be allocated space at the proposed commercial site and management of the market be placed under the association. 

An official and immediate nominated Member of County Assembly (MCA) Leah Mumo said the rich history of the estate, such as social amenities, schools, playground and medical facilities need to be retained. 

“The places local heroes and great Kenyans who lived in the estate need to be preserved. They can be important tourism attraction sites,” said Mumo. 

Historians have argued demolishing a historic property is typically not the right thing to do, even if the property has been abandoned or left unused for years. 

She gave the example of historic preservationists fighting to have the first home of America’s first president, George Washington in Mount Vernon Estate in Washington DC saved from demolition in 1858 by The Mount Vernon Ladies Association. 

She also mentioned the famous ‘French Quarter’ buildings in New Orleans, which were saved from demolition in 1925 and led to the adoption of the Unites States Historic Preservations Ordinance. 

According to Edwin Kibugi, another official of the association, the estates contribute to the city’s unique historical heritage with their unique building and architectural typologies. 

He is of the opinion the unique architectural designs need to be retained to serve as the city’s development in case some of the estates are to be redeveloped.    

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