According to the United Nations Habitat, over 1.8 billion people globally, lack sufficient housing. With two million people being evicted, many more being threatened with evictions and some 150 million people worldwide have become homeless.
The UN considers housing a human right as enshrined in the international human rights law. And according to that law, failing to recognize, protect, and fulfil the Right to Adequate Housing results in the violation of a number of fundamental rights including the Right to Work, Education, Health, and Security. The ability for people to do these hinges on the availability of appropriate and affordable housing.
As an urban city, Accra has slowly become an attractive location for many Ghanaians. It is one of the fastest growing cities in the country. As a result, accommodation has been scarce and a growing concern for many people. As Abraham Maslow argued, a person’s need to provide shelter for themselves and their families tops their list of priorities. Beyond the scarcity, the cost of accommodation has also increased dramatically. This has resulted in the conversation of affordable housing for all.
In a vibrant market filled with opportunities for growth and development, it is paramount to have affordable housing units in vital locations for rent or purchase. Studies have shown that children in stable housing tend to perform better in school and are less likely to experience disruption in their education due to frequent relocations.
Decent, affordable housing has been found to reduce stress and infectious diseases, which leads to improvement in both physical and mental health. Improvements in health stems from stability, available resources for food and health care with increasing access to amenities in quality neighborhoods. With good shelter and health needs taken care of, productivity of people increases exponentially. The desire to achieve more, reach the higher levels of self-improvement and actualization is affected positively.
Affordable housing also saves funds within families’ tight budgets to spend on health care and food. Studies have shown that children whose parents receive housing assistance, benefit from good nutrition. The health benefits for low-income families can be improved with a green ecosystem within affordable housing units.
Beyond its physical and health benefits, stability and stress reduction, affordable housing creates job opportunities for people in construction. Developers will be able to employ more and improve construction standards that affect our environment and reduce costs to the potential homeowners. There will also be order and proper layouts to our property situations, making navigation easier especially for emergency services to reach people faster.
The concept of affordable housing gives government a perfect opportunity to design a policy that impacts society. In the process of providing for citizens, data can be gathered so that people can easily be connected to their homes like it is in advanced countries. If we are able to connect people to their homes, credit facilities are easily accessible without fear of non-payment. It will improve financial sector with innovative technologies and services vital for entrepreneurial development. When we reach that point when people can be traced, goods and services could be purchased on credit.
We need to rethink the policy of affordable housing as beneficial to all aspects of our economic growth and development.
Ms Louisa Afriyie Afrane Okese is a real estate expert based in Accra, Ghana.