SHIOSO: Affordable Housing, crime reduction strategy: The Common thread

Crime is a reality that impacts the proper functioning of economy.

In Summary

•Justification for the merits and demerits of this noble policy intervention have and continue to be proffered.

•Numerous case studies from other jurisdictions have been shared on similar pathways that have been pursued towards economic advancement.

Ongoing affordable housing project in Mukuru, Nairobi.
HOUSING LEVY: Ongoing affordable housing project in Mukuru, Nairobi.
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The ongoing debate on affordable housing is not a national policy concern for only the politicians and the general public, but one which other interest groups, especially the professionals and those in academia should also be concerned with and wade into.

Justification for the merits and demerits of this noble policy intervention have and continue to be proffered.

Numerous case studies from other jurisdictions have been shared on similar pathways that have been pursued towards economic advancement.

Outcome positives so far enumerated include the quality and dignity of life of the people, the growth of the economy through short-term and long-term interventions of job creation, amongst others.

It is these very reasons advanced that an unequivocal correlation is hereby drawn with one area of key interest to all Kenyans: crime (as an effect), with its linked causes.

Whenever there is any discourse on the state of the national, or even local economies, crime or its absence thereof must be at the table as a variable.

The latter (absence of crime in society) without any fear of contradiction is one of the most visible and convincing indicators as a lead measure of both national macro- and micro-economic performance.

A nation will only prosper and develop only to that extent and in direct proportion to the presence of security, with its guarantees that crime shall remain at the minimum, and thus citizens shall have no fear of crime and attendant offending.

Meaning, citizens shall move around, plan, and conduct their activities confidently and assured of clear envisaged outcomes of their daily actions. But not when other diabolic miscreants equally plan and profile others with the determinism and impunity of causing havoc to innocent lives and hard earned property.

As such, crime is an economic factor, and hence, crime matters in all such discussions as with the current discourse on affordable housing.

Crime is a reality that impacts the proper functioning of the economy at both macro and micro levels.

This crime incidence is not evenly spread as one may expect but concentrated in only a few spots.

Crime is, therefore , a function of clear visible hotspots that persists within some locales more than others. This phenomenon is explained by criminology class 101 on “Crime and Causes of Crime" (aetiology of crime).

This criminological course is a foundational "must" in the understanding of the occasion and presence, motivations, and prevalence of crime in society; and more so, in some communities more than others.

And truer to the word, higher prevalent areas aka "hotspots" are usually those which are disadvantaged, inner city or rural villages in total want of the basics. They are the ones who receive a disproportionate amount of crime more than others.

For urban areas, crime, especially of the serious nature, is normally clustered around densely populated slums, where the rule of law is either scarce or altogether absent, and law enforcement doesn’t serve. This is a distinct departure as with the case of affluent neighbourhoods such as Runda and Muthaiga.

So why do we have this disproportionate reality of crime occurrence between the privileged and non privileged areas of habitation? The answer lies in what criminologists have over time endeavoured to postulate. But key perspectives are offered in summary as: classical factors, positivist, and telluric conditions.

The classics in their lazy, high-level philosophical and condescending manner simply apportion crime causage blame to individual freewill.

Positivists on their part bring in the evidence-based science, ranging from Lombrosso’s focus on biological and psychological inherent factors of “born criminal” predisposing the actor to crime; to Durkheim's and others' sociological school of thought of the social conditioning with its modern variants as the key influencers of crime.

The argument is hinged on the physical environment one happens to be in which influences the criminal behaviour (a case study of slums versus rich neighbourhoods suffices).

As such, the latter two taken together (science and the physical space) push poor and underprivileged communities more towards crime and offending than affluent ones.

One glaring constant indicator of such needy want in these two posited schools of thought is poor housing, with housing being a basic social need for all, rich or poor.

Living in a crowded, lacking, and dinghy environment has all the hallmarks of the ingredients of crime - however one looks at it or rationalises.

A five member family living in a one roomed “mabati” structure with no basic amenities - leave alone no food on the table is a sure recipe for crime, period! Coming to mind, theft easily becomes convenient just to feed the hungry mouths back “home.”

And yet the victim of this crime shall not be another needy slum dweller, but one "other" ensconced in the leafy suburbs or in the middle income neighbourhoods. This is the stark reality that crime statistics would affirmatively attest to.

This, therefore, calls for crime reduction solutions. And towards such solution finding, the government proposes the affordable housing programme as a panacea to deal with youth idleness due to unemployment and empower them economically too.

Further, the proposal is a game changer as it would kill many birds with the same stone. Sure, there will be some pains and inconveniences borne by mostly the privileged in supporting and underwriting such a massive programme, but without pain comes no gain! With some tears today, tomorrow may bring happiness when crime dissipates from our communities and the economy rebounds, courtesy of the housing transformation.

As clearly shared by H.E the President, during Jamhuri Day celebrations, Singapore and others walked this very journey many years ago and are currently reaping from their vision and then pain. With the execution of this Marshall project, the needy youth shall in the intervening period be pulled off crime - a by-product of social and terrulic factors, and thus driven back into meaningful work as artisans and casuals, etc, hence fend for themselves and their families.

With completion of the project, the majority of them shall afford to upgrade their living (social) conditions, hence moving out of the crime and criminal pathway. In a few years on the horizon, the majority of this population would be dignified and fully engaged and reintegrated in a “new” crime free economy as a factor of production as opposed to factors of crime.

With such a lead measure, a sure prediction of a turnaround economy buoyed by improved security and safety shall be assured, making it a win-win situation for all Kenyans.

Bruno Isohi Shioso, EBS, OGW, Director General - Kenya Coast Guard Service

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