Let's work together for housing plan to thrive, PS tells counties

They should prepare for ownership once the houses are built, he said

In Summary

• Housing PS Hinga joined Kitui Governor Malombe in calling for county, state unity

• Malombe said in first five years of devolution, counties shied away from housing

Housing PS Charles Hinga and Kitui Governor Julius Malombe follow proceedings during a housing breakaway session on Wednesday at the Devolution Conference in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu county
Housing PS Charles Hinga and Kitui Governor Julius Malombe follow proceedings during a housing breakaway session on Wednesday at the Devolution Conference in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu county

The national government and the 47 devolved units should cooperate to provide affordable housing to all Kenyans, Housing PS Charles Hinga has said.

Speaking during the Devolution Conference in Eldoret on Wednesday, he said this would especially help those in the low-income bracket.

“Collaboration is the key message between the national government and county governments. It is not competition,” Hinga said.

The conference is ongoing at the Eldoret Sports Club in Uasin Gishu county.

Hinga was a panellist in a housing sector breakaway session alongside Kitui Governor Julius Malombe.

He said the national and county governments should craft a partnership and agree on what roles each entity will play in the provision of affordable housing.

Malombe said there should be a new housing policy in place to make things work.

He said collaboration and walking together in servicing urban land are important so that housing is not seen as just as erecting high-rise structures.

He said it should include social amenities and infrastructure.

Hinga said as the affordable housing programme gets underway across Kenya, county governments should prepare themselves for ownership once the houses are built to completion.

The PS suggested setting up county housing cooperatives that could manage the houses.

He said there should be good plans to also manage common facilities like the schools and clinics.

“Because we are not just building houses. There is a lot of social infrastructure; who is going to own them?” Hinga said.

“I think we can start a conversation to make counties start getting ready to receive these houses.”

He said the houses being built are of very high quality and it was almost unbelievable that they were meant for low-income earners.

He said they have all the things found in any other gated community.

Malombe said the Constitution assigned county governments the responsibility of county planning and development, including for housing as it arrogates the housing policy to the national government.

He said it was the responsibility of the county government to ensure that housing was planned for and housing is developed.

Malombe said during the first five years of devolution, counties did nothing in matters housing.

“If we look at the last 10 years, the county governments, which were established pursuant to the 2010 Constitution, did not really take up housing as one of the key functions immediately,” he said.

“There was hesitancy on what to do.”

He said housing for a long time did not get attention from government institutions because it was not believed to be a function of the government.

There was initially a feeling that housing should be left to the private sector and forces of demand and supply, thus counties did not embrace the housing business.

Malombe said in the last five years, county governments took over housing and a number were developing new housing facilities through the affordable housing schemes.

He citted Majengo in Mombasa and Mavoko and Syukimau in Machakos.

“I think there are around 42 counties where, through collaboration with the national government, land has been reserved and some affordable housing projects have been kick-started,” he said.

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