The government through the State Department of Housing and Urban Development has rolled out a raft of attractive incentives to encourage Kenyans and particularly those in formal employment own their homes.
Principal Secretary (PS) in the Department Charles Hinga on Tuesday said the biggest challenge in housing is the high cost of building driven by exorbitant land costs, high cost of construction, unnecessary processes and financing that ensures only 2 per cent of our economy can afford a home.
Speaking at Nyeri Main Prison during the commissioning of 60 modern housing units for officers, Hinga said a housing survey commissioned by the Department through KPMG in every county and is to be revealed soon, a draft show there is a serious shortage of housing in the country.
“We as a department through KPMG commissioned a study which we are about to release and they did a housing survey in each county and a draft report shows the housing deficit is to the tune of 4.5 million,” Hinga said.
He noted that productivity in work places is to a large extent determined on the way workers lived.
The PS added that the 2010 Constitution gave Kenyans a fundamental right to adequate housing that should have clean water and sanitation.
Hinga said Vision 2030 envisages a high-quality life but we have not addressed how to fund that kind of life.
He regretted that though in 1969 the Housing Act was amended and a housing fund established the nice Act is gathering dust and was never implemented.
He said that the State Department of Housing and Urban Development has put in place a comprehensive plan to help employees with pay slips own their homes through a partnership between the government and the private sector.
Hinga added that the government has put in place comprehensive incentives for the private sector to build homes for the employees.
However, he noted that “One of the things that we have not done to you as an individual is the effort that the government has put together to make home ownership to you a reality”.
He further said home ownership has currently been made easy and under section 22 of the income tax there is home ownership savings plan that gives one a tax break if he saves for a home.
“That amount was Sh 4,000 and last year we doubled it to Sh 8,000” Hinga said adding that even stamp duty for potential home owners had been removed.
He further said last year through the Finance Bill, the department introduced an affordable Housing scheme where each employee would be getting Sh 9,000 cash towards building their homes.
He added that recently Parliament passed one of the most radical amendments to remove VAT on construction.
Hinga said that some of the counties partnering with the department have removed development fees to ensure costs of construction were affordable.
“If you do not take advantage of these dispensations, and become a home owner you are doing yourself a wrong,” he noted.
The PS added that county directors of Housing have been empowered to give the information on incentives towards home ownership and urged Kenyans to frequent them or visit www.bomayangu.go.ke for more information.
He also urged Kenyans to dial *688# adding “that is the beginning of the journey to home ownership”.
Speaking during the same occasion, PS’s for Correctional Services and Public Works Mrs Zainab Hussein and Major General (Rtd) Gordon Kihalangwa warned contractors and staff against variation of contracts and unnecessary delays adding that the government would not take it kindly.