The Liberian Government through the National Housing Authority (NHA) has been unfolding plans to boost its housing program by the provision of decent and affordable homes for its citizens.
Already, the housing sector is under strong demand as evidenced by the scarcity of housing resulting from the civil war that wrecked every sector of the country.
NHA Managing Director, Samuel Thompson believes the housing sector must be prioritized among other competing priorities owing to its linkages to reducing poverty, economic empowerment and job creation. As such, there is a need to infuse massive amount of finances in the development of the sector.
According to Mr. Thompson, the country’s housing program leaves much to be done as there is a huge deficit of over four hundred and fifty thousand homes if we are to meet the present housing needs of our people.
The NHA Boss continued: “We need decent and affordable houses with paved access and internal road networks, street lights, modern sanitation and other facilities like shopping centers, schools, clinics and police stations throughout the country to also boost the decentralization dream of the government”. This will encourage civil servants to move to rural areas and provide vital services to the people.
Mr. Thompson said currently the NHA is working on several initiatives, developing frameworks by which it can pursue decent and affordable housing for the Liberian people. He made mention of an ongoing project in Brewerville for the construction of two hundred and fifty houses in a community of fifty acres.
According to him the entity is also targeting the construction of a 1.2 mile paved access road from the G4 Junction to the Brewerville site. Mr. Thompson also spoke of ongoing discussion with the Ministries of Finance and Public Works to secure adequate financing and implement that project.
He continued, “We are also pursuing a public private partnership arrangement with an investor based in Switzerland to develop ninety- three acres in Wolokor, near the University of Liberia Fendell Campus, which was started earlier but abandoned by Chinese investors”.
Mr. Thompson said already, Central Bank Governor Dr. Mills Jones has embraced the NHA vision and promised to make an additional contribution of five million US Dollars through a local bank for construction and mortgage financing.
Last year, the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) provided ten Million US Dollars to the vital housing sector through LBDI for construction and 10-year mortgage financing.
The NHA has already started low income pilot housing projects in Sanniquelle, Voinjama and Buchanan with limited Corporate Social Responsibility funding from NOCAL.
“However, the lack of adequate soft funding such as that provided by NOCAL, and of longer term financing for up to 20-year mortgages are hampering the entity’s ability to move forward in also providing housing for the lower income sectors of society,” Mr. Thompson said.
“To do so more effectively requires subsidies both for sites and services infrastructure, and in the cost of the low income houses to make them more affordable,” Thompson stated.
The NHA boss said his entity is also reaching out to friendly governments and institutions such as the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and Habitat for Humanity to address these needs.