Magharebia (Washington DC)

29 July 2014

Morocco Launches Housing Survey

Rabat — Morocco intends to improve its housing policy by identifying citizens' needs in relation to their spending powers.

Housing Minister Mohamed Nabil Benabdellah on Wednesday (July 23rd) launched a survey of urban and rural households. Speaking at the Rabat kick-off event for the initiative, the minister stressed the need for housing for the poor.

This study, which will run for a year, comes against the backdrop of significant changes in Morocco, such as strong urbanisation, a growing population and migratory flows.

These developments have led to different housing needs, both in terms of quality and quantity, according to those behind the survey.

According to sociologist Bouchta Kamili, the national study comes at the right time, given the housing problems faced by citizens, particularly in major cities.

"In Rabat, Casablanca, Marrakech and even Tangiers, members of the public struggle to find decent homes at prices they can afford," Kamili told Magharebia.

"Add to this to the conditions in which thousands of Moroccans live because their homes are nearly falling apart," he said.

Less than a fortnight ago, he noted, the collapse of three apartment buildings in the Bourgogne district of Casablanca left 23 people dead.

The risk of collapse in the ancient medinas is linked to the age of the buildings, which can be up to 200 years old, the housing minister said at the time, noting that steps were being taken to address the problem.

But economist Mohamed Charfi argues that along with reviewing the construction permit process and tightening controls to reduce the risk of such collapses, the government also needs to impose controls on speculation and offer incentives to developers, to keep prices affordable for consumers.

Sara Tabiri, a management assistant, struggled for many months to find a flat in Rabat for a reasonable price. This drove her to look in a working-class district in nearby Salé.

"I've been married for two years now, and I was looking for a home in Rabat, where my husband and I work. But the price per square metre is high: between 15,000 and 27,000 dirhams. Even with a loan I couldn't contemplate buying even a little studio in Rabat," she said.

"Rent is also out of my league. You have to pay between 5,000 and 7,000 dirhams a month for a 60 square metre flat in some districts," she added.

On this issue, minister Benabdellah stressed that his department was working to build affordable flats to let.

"Thanks to these efforts, the housing shortfall has fallen in recent years," he said.

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