Home seekers in Harare will soon benefit from government’s recently introduced Home Ownership Scheme which will see flats on serviced land being sold to low and middle income earners on the housing waiting list.
The program will start in Dzivarasekwa where 640 two-bed roomed flats are to be constructed. Another 524 two-bed roomed flats will be constructed in Tafara while a further 880 three-bed roomed flats will spring up in Prospect. The housing scheme is in line with ZIMASSET’s target of constructing 105,935 housing units in Harare by 2018.
The three-bedroom flats in Prospect will reportedly be sold for at least $65,000 while the two-bed roomed flats in Tafara and Dzivarasekwa will go for $42,000. Beneficiaries of the scheme are expected to pay a deposit of $5,000 with the remainder payable over a period of 20 years.
The Home Ownership Scheme will rely on beneficiary contributions to finance the project while the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing will provide land and infrastructure. The permanent secretary in the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Engineer George Mlilo, said that government will invite interested home-seekers to register with the ministry to start contributing towards the scheme.
“Contributions will be channeled through a bank to service stands or construct houses or flats. Under the new scheme, beneficiaries will only be allowed to take occupation of the stands or housing units once the land is fully serviced or when houses are fully constructed. The provision of water, sewer reticulation and road networking as well as the actual construction of houses and flats will be carried out by the ministry using its construction unit and through the engagement of specialised contractors,” said Mlilo.
Mlilo went on to say that the scheme was being introduced as a way of protecting desperate home-seekers from unscrupulous activities by bogus housing cooperatives and land developers.
However, just like previous government or council-led housing initiatives, many have complained about the price of the housing units which they believe are exorbitant for low-income earners. Valery Njere (26) from Mbare said that government should come up with housing schemes to purely benefit the poor.
“It is a welcome development that government is introducing a new housing scheme but I think the terms of sale are not favourable to the poor. I wonder who can afford the $5,000 deposit for the flats considering the current economic hardships? At the end of the day, only the rich will continue benefiting from these housing programs,” said Njere.
Martin Simango (34) from Mabvuku concurred with Njere and believes that government must charge reasonable prices for houses under the Home Ownership Scheme to serve low-income home seekers.
“Government should avail low-cost housing units if they are really serious about addressing the housing backlog. Most people are looking for cheap housing and that is why many home seekers are resorting to illegal land sales which are much cheaper,” explained Simango.
Government and council have over the years failed to provide affordable housing to residents. Housing co-operatives and private land developers have played a major role in providing housing but the price of acquiring a house has remained exorbitant for many, leading to the mushrooming of illegal settlements in the city.