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Hopes rise as Affordable Housing Bill proposals gather momentum

The Parliamentary Committee on Housing, Urban Planning, and Public Works has completed the crucial process of gathering public opinions and suggestions on The Affordable Housing Bill, 2023.

The committee utilized town hall meetings, online forums, and surveys to gather diverse opinions on the proposed legislation, emphasizing the significance of public feedback in policy formulation.

Speaking at the Ronald Ngala Social Hall, the committee Chairperson Johana Ngeno lauded the active participation of citizens, housing advocates, and industry professionals, emphasizing the invaluable role of public input in shaping effective policy.

“For the past three weeks, we have been conducting nationwide consultations to gather feedback from citizens, particularly on the significant matters: the collection of the levy as stipulated in the Finance Act, and the subsequent implementation of the said levy,” he said.

Ngeno emphasized that implementation of the housing levy hinges on the establishment of a board of management responsible for overseeing the allocated funds, while he highlighted the importance of collaborating with agencies such as the National Housing Corporation (NHC) and the State Department for Housing to effectively execute these projects.

At the same time, various perspectives and proposals have arisen regarding the whole issue, including the possibility of adjusting the levy amount or exploring alternative financing methods for the government housing project including pursuing borrowing as the means of funding.

However, Ngeno asserted that 80% of the people who made their proposals were for the affordable housing agenda, but observed that the primary concern expressed by the public has been whether taxation should be imposed, voluntary or encouraged.

The chairman concluded that it is upon the committee to balance how to make the public’s housing dream come true and how to build houses without affecting other ways of living or imposing a great dent in people’s finances.

On their part, Changamwe residents expressed concerns about the recent house demolition in the area, urging members of the committee to visit the area to understand the specifics of the issue.

However, in reply Ngeno said, “We have been informed that some individuals residing in those houses were previously allocated alternative housing. Out of the 80 individuals originally residing there, 18 are currently still occupying the premises.”

He stated that the committee, in collaboration with the State Department and the County Commissioner Abdirisack Jaldesa reached an agreement to address the issue comprehensively because their objective is to resolve the matter permanently, emphasizing their commitment to improving the lives of the affected individuals.

The chairperson also addressed another issue that arose about the allocation of houses to the Buxton residents noting that many residents were claiming that some people who were living there initially were not considered.

“The residents of Buxton requested that priority be given to the current occupants of the plots when allocating the houses and we have reached a consensus on this issue,” he stated.

The Mombasa County Commissioner affirmed the demolition of the Changamwe houses saying that the National Housing Corporation (NHC) had offered to rebuild the houses for being in a poor state.

Jaldesa said that NHC built alternative houses for the 80 residents, but only 62 houses had been moved to a different location.

He stated that the construction of the houses by the government had been delayed due to the refusal of 18 residents to vacate the premises, otherwise, the construction would have been completed by now.

The county commissioner added that they had finally agreed to finance the relocation of the remaining 18 residents and also settle their rent.

By Fatma Said

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