According to the United Nations Habitat, over 1.8 billion people globally, lack sufficient housing. Two million people have been evicted, many more are being threatened with evictions, and some 150 million people worldwide have become homeless.
The UN considers housing as human right, as enshrined in the international human rights law. According to that law, the failure to recognize, protect, and fulfill the right to adequate housing is considered a violation of a number of fundamental rights, including the right to work, education, health, and security.
The fulfilment of these rights hinges on the availability of appropriate and affordable housing for any group of people, regardless of race, creed, and geographical location.
Accra has become an attractive location for many Ghanaians and foreigners. It is one of the fastest growing cities in the country. As an urban city, the scarcity of accommodation has been a growing concern for many people.
As Abraham Maslow argued, a person’s need to provide shelter for themselves and their families tops their list of priorities. Beyond the scarcity, the high cost of accommodation is one of the factors that often triggers the conversation about affordable housing for all.
In a vibrant market filled with opportunities for growth and development, it is paramount to have affordable housing units in vital locations for rent or purchase. Studies have shown that children in stable housing tend to perform better in school and are less likely to experience disruption in their education due to frequent relocations.
Decent, affordable housing has been found to reduce stress and infectious diseases, which leads to improvement in both physical and mental health. Improvements in health stem from stability, available resources for food and health care, and increasing access to amenities in quality neighborhoods. With good shelter and health needs taken care of, the productivity of people increases exponentially. The desire to achieve more and reach higher levels of self-improvement and actualization is affected positively.
Affordable housing also saves funds within families’ tight budgets to spend on health care and food. Studies have shown that children whose parents receive housing assistance benefit from good nutrition. The health benefits for low income families can be improved with a green ecosystem within affordable housing units.
Beyond its physical and health benefits, stability and stress reduction, affordable housing creates job opportunities for people in construction. Developers will be able to employ more and improve construction standards that affect our environment and reduce costs to potential home owners. There will also be order and proper layout of our property situations, making navigation easier, especially for emergency services to reach people faster.
The concept of affordable housing gives the government a perfect opportunity to design a policy that impacts society. In the process of providing for citizens, data can be gathered so that people can easily be connected to their homes like it is in advanced countries. If we are able to connect people to their homes, credit facilities are easily accessible without fear of non-payment. It will improve the financial sector with innovative technologies and services vital for entrepreneurial development. When we reach that point when people can be traced, goods and services could be purchased on credit.
We need to rethink the policy of affordable housing as beneficial to all aspects of our economic growth and development.
By Louisa Afriyie Afrane Okese
Louisa Afriyie Afrane Okese is a forward-thinking individual with sound experience in the real estate industry, primarily within Accra’s choicest neighbourhoods.
Overall, she has 12 years of operational experience, with a vast majority of it being within business change, real estate sourcing, property consulting, interior styling, project management and client relations.