President Kenyatta today met a bi-partisan group of parliament and labour leaders to discuss the road map towards the realisation of affordable housing, a key pillar in his Big Four development blueprint.
In the meeting held at State House Nairobi and attended by Deputy President William Ruto, members of the National Assembly and Senate, and COTU, were taken through the steps the Government is taking to deliver the envisaged 500,000 housing units over the next five years.
Secretary-general Francis Atwoli led the COTU team.
The deliberations covered a wide array of aspects needed to lower the cost of housing in the country, including the escalating cost of land, provision of supporting infrastructure, anchor legislations and financing among other key considerations.
Speaking at the meeting, President Kenyatta urged the leaders to engage actively with the programme with a view of making it better because Kenyans deserve good quality and affordable houses.
"Let us all purpose to make the dream of many Kenyans to own decent and affordable houses a reality by actively participating in this programme and playing our respective roles," the President challenged the MPs drawn from the departmental committee of transport, public works and housing of the National Assembly and the Senate's standing committee on roads and transport.
Considering that housing is largely a devolved function, the President commended the 22 counties that have already signed up to the programme and challenged the remaining to come on-board.
"I am happy that more and more county governments are joining the programme following our recent meeting with the Council of Governors. I ask the remaining counties to also come on-board," President Kenyatta remarked.
While briefing the leaders, the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development James Macharia informed the leaders that today's meeting was part of on-going stakeholder engagement and public participation activities which are both constitutional requirements and international best practices.
"To avoid mistakes of the past, we are actively engaging all stakeholders starting with the top leadership of the country all the way to the grassroots so as to enrich this programme as well as create public ownership and earn the support of all Kenyans," CS Macharia said.
On his part, Deputy President William Ruto asked the leaders to support the housing programme by being its biggest champions in their respective constituencies, counties and among workers respectively.
"As leaders, we have a unique opportunity of resolving the housing challenge which has eluded us for over 50 years by championing this programme," the Deputy President stated.
The Deputy President further observed that by providing land and the supporting infrastructure such as water, sewerage services, roads and electricity-the two components that typically account for over 40 per cent of all construction costs-the government is on-course to achieving affordable housing.
Kenya has a current housing deficit of 1.9 million houses with an annual demand of 250,000 units against a yearly supply of 50,000 houses.
The affordable housing programme as proposed by the government incorporates supply, demand as well as the enabling environment considerations that make house ownership in Kenya an expensive undertaking with the objective of providing affordable houses for the urban poor, rural communities and the middle class.
According to the project pipeline presented by the Principal Secretary in the State Department of Housing Charles Hinga, the affordable housing project will be unveiled in Nairobi and progressively rolled out to other counties.
Park Road, Makongeni, Muguga Green and Shauri Moyo housing projects, accounting for a total of 27,840 houses, will be among the first to be rolled out.
The meeting that was also attended by Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich resolved to engage more stakeholders as the programme is rolled out to all corners of the country.