THE CHALLENGES OF HOUSING FOR THE LOW INCOME EARNERS
Housing has a central importance to quality of life with considerable economic, social, cultural and personal significance. Though a country’s national prosperity is usually measured in economic terms, increasing wealth is of diminished value unless all can share its benefits and if the growing wealth is not used to redress growing social deficiencies, one of which is housing (Erguden, 2001). Housing plays a huge role in revitalizing economic growth in any country, with shelter being among key indicators of development (Ireri, 2010). The universal declaration of human rights gives one of the basic human rights as the right to a decent standard of living, central to which is the access to adequate housing (United Nations, The Human Rights – article 25, 1948). Housing as a basic human right demands that urban dwellers should have access to decent housing, defined as one that provides a foundation for, rather than being a barrier to, good physical and mental health, personal development and the fulfillment of life objectives (Seedhouse, 1986). The focus of this research is housing for low income households or what is commonly known as affordable housing. Affordable housing is a term used to describe dwelling units whose total housing costs are deemed “affordable” to those that have a median income. A median income refers to the average pay scale level of the majority people in a population which is often low. Although the term “affordable housing” is often applied to rental housing that is within the financial means of those in the lower income ranges of a geographical area, the concept is applicable to both renters and purchasers in all income ranges. Low-income housing is aimed at individuals without enough income to provide adequate housing for themselves and/or their families. These families are usually unable to purchase a home because they fail to qualify for a mortgage.
Housing is a major problem in Nigeria especially in Makurdi. Millions of people are living in the sprawling slums and also in other informal settlements. Informal settlements and slums in Makurdi have continued to grow at an alarming rate in number as well as in population. Table 1.1 shows the growth in informal settlements in Makurdi between the year 2011 and 2015.
Table 1.1 Growth in Informal Settlements in Makurdi.
Year No. of informal
Population. % of urban population. 2011 36 167,000 33 2012 50 200,000 40 – 50 2013 78 789,991 55 2015 134 1,886,166 60
Source: Benue State Urban Archives, 2015.
“Informal settlements” is a generic and technical term that seeks to capture the many different features of those settlements that house many of the urban poor in developing countries. The name implies the dominant feature of such settlements is their informality – the fact that they develop outside the existing legal and regulatory framework.