The Federal Government in partnership with the Cross River State Government is set to commence the construction of 1,000 housing units to be spread across the three senatorial zones of the state.
The social housing program is under the National Social Housing Program being promoted by the Economic Sustainability Committee in the office of the Vice President.
Disclosing the flag of the project during a presentation to the state governor, Sir Ben Ayade in Calabar, Managing Director of Family Homes Funds Limited, Femi Adewole, said “the scheme is a new program that was instituted in October 2020 as one of the economic sustainability plans of the federal government in response to the effects of Covid-19.”
Adewole said the development of the housing units was going to be in phases with the first phase or part that will see to the construction of “a thousand units under the affordable housing programme.”
Continuing, he revealed that “the social housing program is one of the economic sustainability plans of the Federal Government in response to the effects of Covid-19 on the economy and also to alleviate its impact on Nigerians on very low income.
“By it’s nature, this program is targeted at Nigerians on very low income with the directive from the committee that the houses should cost no more than two million naira and that is basically to ensure that it is affordable to civil servants who are earning the minimum wage.”
On how the scheme will be funded, Adewole stated: “The program will be funded under a two hundred billion naira debenture deed between the Family Homes Funds and the Central Bank of Nigeria with the beneficiaries expected to pay for their houses over a 15-year period as a minimum. And if you work that out for the two million naira house, it will give you just under nine thousand naira monthly repayment schedule and that meets the affordability criteria.”
Giving a breakdown of how the projects will be distributed, the Family Homes Funds CEO, revealed that “three sites have been identified in Cross River State and they are Odukpani, Ikom and Ogoja and the designs for all of these and the documentations have now been completed and we expect to finalize the funding by the end of this month with a prospective groundbreaking at a date to be agreed with His Excellency.
“The second part is the affordable housing program and that is what we call the vanilla of the family homes funds and this is aimed at low/middle income earners.”
According to Adewole, “having done the social housing, we are also making provisions for commercial spaces, green areas and parks and that has reduced the number across the three sites for the social housing to a total of 886 Units which is slightly short of our 1000 units target. So your Excellency that is where we are.”
Expressing excitement at the choice of Cross River for the pilot project, Governor Ayade recalled that “Our first discussion on this was back in Russia and back then you told me that you would make sure Cross River gets into the scheme and today you are here to keep your promise. I want to thank you very much.”
Ayade said “having listened to your presentation, I know the board of Family Homes Funds will definitely give the final approval on the 24th which is next week Tuesday. So I cannot wait to have your phone call with the good news to tell me all is done.”
The governor said with Cross River population at 4.2 million, 886 housing units were grossly inadequate, adding that “We have the NLC here, we have the civil servants, we have market women, so I am worried about 886 units when we have about 15000 people already interested. I think that 886 is such a small number for Cross River State with a population of 4.2m people.”
On the cost of two bedroom bungalow as proposed by Family Homes Funds, Ayade beamed: “So your provision of N 2 million for a one bedroom house for the poorest of the poor and not necessarily tying it to a formal income regime is very commendable.
“But we must also be very sensitive to the quality of the houses even though we are desperate to keep the price at N2 million so as to avoid disasters in the future.”
Governor Ayade promised that “for us as a government, I will want to do something a little better than what you have offered and this will be at no extra cost to the beneficiaries but to the state because we want Cross River to be your extraordinary shining example. I know that a two million naira house will not be fitted, given the kind of rain fall pattern we have. And the reality is that for this house to last up to 15 years, you will definitely need state government support so you will see some certain modifications which will also help in facilitating repayments because the beneficiaries will be too happy with the quality.”