The Housing Development Advocacy Network has called on the government and the private sector to put measures in place for people in need of decent accommodation in the country during the period of lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement signed by its President, Festus Adebayo, the group said it had critically evaluated the government’s economic intervention policies and observed the lack of provision for the real estate sector.
The group said, “This is not right because a lot of the people we are asking to stay home don’t even have a home. Many real estate developers and mortgage banks are operating based on loans. How is the government intervening in that respect?
‘’At this crucial time, we call on the government to roll out palliatives in the area of rental payment, mortgage payment obligations and downward review of interest rates lest occupiers of mortgaged houses might lose them.”
It also said there should be a break in mortgage payment, adding, “Even those who are living in mortgaged houses might lose them at this time if nothing is done by the government to support them.”
The group said it desired a policy declaration from the government that would address the struggle of the National Housing Fund loans’ subscribers, especially civil servants.
According to the HDAN, with the lockdown, a few months’ break from the payment of the loans will help subscribers use their lean resources to cater for their families.
The group said it believed that the government could work out a good plan with the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria.
It said, “The HDAN is urging the authorities of Lagos State and the FCT to open a homeless peoples’ register for citizens who have no homes but live in shanties or squatting in heavily congested rooms with very poor condition.
‘’We also call on religious bodies to join this collaboration with public authorities, which will enable the provision of up to six months free accommodation for the most affected persons this period, even if they are temporary arrangements.”
It noted that the government could not do it alone and thus commended the private sector’s efforts.
“We cannot afford to ignore the homeless in our cities. There are many people living under bridges, in slums, and uncompleted buildings. Providing decent shelter for them at this time can be an effective way of limiting the spread of the virus,” it stated.
The group said many vacant houses around the country could become temporary shelters for homeless people, adding that stakeholders should do everything possible to allow them to have access to the houses, even if it would require government or religious bodies paying for them.