On housing

Following the tragedy in London, Mordanicus has a great article on cooperative housing as means of delivering housing. An article by Rasna Warah titled authorities do not care enough about death traps called homes looks at housing for the poor and the apparent failure by the public bodies to ensure safety standards are met.

The argument that countries such as ours do not have the funds to invest in social housing is not supported by facts. If the country can invest in a rail that is going nowhere and does not make economic sense, they can invest in social housing.

The private sector cannot deliver social housing. The main motive is profit and to expect them to provide social housing is not any different from expecting milk from a bull. It is not going to happen. The public sector must intervene either as the provider of public housing or by providing incentives to private developers to provide social housing. If the government is going to let the private sector to provide social housing, they must ensure all standards of safety are met and that the housing provided is adequate.

In a housing market that is not fully developed as ours, the entry of the government in housing provision wouldn’t destabilize the market. It would be important to map out the very vulnerable who should get social housing. This should be done to ensure those who are really vulnerable get the houses.

Since housing does take a big portion of households earnings, there is need to provide affordable housing for all income groups.


About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

14 thoughts on “On housing

  1. Mordanicus says:

    Thanks for the link!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hariod Brawn says:

    Here, a local resident speaks truth to the media (Sky, off camera) at the foot of Grenfell Tower in London. He is quite brilliant.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. renudepride says:

    Another excellent post, O Exalted One! I agree 100% with you that if the leadership wants to really “lead” they must ensure that their followers must be offered the basic necessities, including safe and adequate and affordable housing. Thank you, my Kenyan brother! Naked hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. basenjibrian says:

    as bad and as substandard as it is, is “favela” self-built housing perhaps a better approach? With the government clearly responsible for actually providing public services (especially health related services like water and sewer and public health-and parks where appropriate).

    John Z can weigh in on this, but the photos I have seen of “public housing” in Rio are soul-deadening. As bad as the self-built housing in the favelas are, I wonder if “projects” built 25 miles away from the jobs in the South Zone are the solution.

    I am not familiar with the Kenyan situation, but to me the key government role may be providing land, and then providing services.

    As bad as “unsafe” housing is, it is better than NO housing? From a codes standpoint, the standards for safe housing are continuously improved-and made more expensive. There are many people who will never be able to afford market rent housing (given the realities of the bifurcated job market).

    I would also note that government management of housing has often (not universally, there IS Singapore) been dismal. Across systems and economies.

    Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      Provision of serviced lots was tried years ago and it failed mainly due to poor targeting and or those allocated would sell land and continue to live in slums.
      You are right on standards. They need to be realistic. Otherwise they make housing provision impossible.
      Self built housing may not be as bad if the technology and materials are of good enough standard.

      Liked by 1 person

      • basenjibrian says:

        Well, then. One could argue that “poor” are making rational decisions based on their life priorities. As middle class persons (I assume) we may look askance at “slums” but the recipients of the lots may prioritize education for their children, debts, heck…food?

        But as with American Urban Renewal, the federal government funded the demolition of vast areas of aging “slums”. The populations-and the communities and cultures they created-were almost always displaced. And the replacement housing was, to repeat my term, soul deadening mid century modernism that has not aged well. Even if built to code

        The reality is all economies, “developed” and “developing” depend on a reserve army of low paid workers. Absent a massive restructuring of economies, this will always be the case. “Realism” in standards is always the question. Can code writers sitting in a government office universally understand what is realistic or all the impacts? (to an extent, this is what I DO professionally, LOL). At least in the United States, building codes never become simpler or cheaper. And there is always justification for new requirements (energy conservation. water conservation. seismic standards) But that means housing will often be more expensive-and less available for the working poor.

        Those outside the economy are a whole ‘nother issue, of course


        • makagutu says:

          I agree with you again( as I always do) that the poor can be said to be making rational decisions based on their priorities. In fact a housing provision or improvement that does not consider their source of livelihood will always fail. Reports coming from London that they want to move some people 200km and that would be so inhumane. These people may have their livelihoods in that place and moving them that far would be cruel.

          And again any renewal of brown sites displaces communities and while developers smile all the way to the bank, they end up creating monstrosities.
          Must all households have parking? How far can we go with appropriate technology? Are the standards developing countries adopting realistic for their economic situation?


    • That answer is, of course, imaginary tents. You can’t get safer than that.


  5. Safe & adequate housing seems to be an issue everywhere.


    • basenjibrian says:

      But these terms are not absolutes or universals. every allocation of resources involves tradeoffs.

      A medieval peasant would be thrilled with what we consider slums.


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