Machakos — President Uhuru Kenyatta has launched one of the housing projects under the Affordable Housing Programme initiative.
Habitat Heights at Lukenya in Machakos County-- one of the Strategic Partners' projects-- will deliver 8,888 units.
The development is one of the projects of the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and their partners and will provide housing units to present and retired/past staff members of the various constituent arms of the United Nations, their families and friends.
Habitat Height is the first project developed under the Memorandum of Understanding between the State Department for Housing and Urban Development and UNOPs in September 2018 to develop 100,000 housing units.
The project is being undertaken by AFRA Holdings Limited through its local subsidiary Singapura Developers LTD (Kenya) in conjunction with Housing Finance.
Speaking at the launch, President Kenyatta said that the government is committed to increasing home ownership in Kenya.
"The delivery of the houses promoted under the Affordable Housing Programme initiative demonstrates the government's commitment to delivering affordable housing which is one of the Big 4 Agenda priority areas," the President said.
"The last 18 months of our endeavors have been spent in laying the groundwork for affordable housing by addressing some of the systemic issues that have made housing unavailable and unaffordable in our urban areas and ever-growing peri-urban areas," President Kenyatta said.
During the launch, the President also unveiled the road map for the development of more houses under a development that is part of a new well-planned city.
"Consistent with this project at Habitat Heights, I am pleased to announce that our UNOPS partners have arranged for funding for these 100,000 units so that home buyers will access affordable mortgages to purchase their new homes. This project alone will inject an estimated USD 5 billion into the economy which affirms Kenya as a worthwhile destination for foreign direct investment (FDI)," the President said.
The President also revealed the government's efforts to mitigate the high costs of horizontal infrastructure which contributes to the cost of development.
"We decided to make national and county government land available for projects at no cost to potential home buyers. Additionally, we have set aside Sh30 billion towards infrastructure at the municipal level and have already disbursed Sh11 billion with the next phase funding to be provided soon," the President said.
The Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development Mr. James Macharia said that Habitat Height Project is catalytic and being the first major project promoted under the Affordable Housing Programme it has attracted other investors to participate in the Programme.
"These kinds of projects can't succeed without strategic partners and we are happy to have more partners come on board," Macharia said.
"Today is a historic day as it demonstrates that the housing agenda is gaining momentum and is on schedule," he added.
The United Nations Under Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNOPS, Vitaly Vansheilboim congratulated the government for bringing affordable housing to the forefront.
"We will showcase this project across Africa as it demonstrates what a dedicated government can do to the people," Vansheilboim said.
On his part, the State Department of Housing Principal Secretary Charles Hinga said that there is a rapid rate of urbanization in Kenya and the need for access to decent and affordable housing is more important than ever.
Machakos County Governor, Alfred Mutua reiterated the County Government's commitment to continue facilitating investors to put up affordable houses.
The Affordable Housing Programme is an initiative by the Kenyan Government as one of the pillars under the 'Big 4 Agenda' which ensures that low and middle-income households have access to decent and affordable housing.
Under the Programme, the government is set to enable private developers to construct 500,000 housing units to meet the latent demands for houses in the low and middle-income category.
Developers and potential home buyers under the Affordable Housing Programme are set to enjoy various incentives including tax breaks as stipulated in the Financial Act 2019.
All the developers who put up at least 400 low-cost residential houses will enjoy a lower corporate tax rate of 15 percent as the government looks to boost investment in housing for low-income earners.
On the other hand, the potential home buyers will not only enjoy affordable monthly payments tailored to their income, but first-time home buyers will enjoy a 15 percent tax benefit on their PAYE. It is expected that this benefit will drive savings towards home ownership.