Make housing affordable


HOUSING is an important human need in all Papua New Guinea urban centres.
Unfortunately, chances of most urban families acquiring homes of their own remain slim.
This is because the supply of houses has not been able to match the demand for it, which pushed house prices up beyond the price that most households can afford.
Housing is becoming a luxury good for the majority of residents of major cities.
Here in Port Moresby, most citizens live somewhere between the margins that separates settlements from low cost basic housing.
One end of the spectrum, you have the foreign workforce and well-to-do Papua New Guineans (politicians, managers, businessmen and women) and the middle class occupying the best homes money can buy, while around them in every corner and crack shoot settlements virtually unhindered, populated by people who have next to no means for even the basics for a place of abode – services and amenities such as clean running water, electricity, a proper sewerage system in place and garbage disposal – are not freely available to those who live in these places.
An increasing trend one finds is that a good number of these settlement dwellers are actually formally employed and some even have tertiary level education and work over a wide cross section of the community in jobs in the private sector from banking to construction and in the public service from the police force to health and teaching.
This is the reality for many Papua New Guineans and the cry has been long and rough over the years, but now, with the expansion of the middle class, the demand for better quality homes is getting louder and louder from all corners.
There is no way someone earning, say K500 a fortnight, can afford rental accommodation besides meeting his other basic needs.
This has forced some households to move to informal settlements where they can find houses they can afford.
The increase in informal settlements has been a challenge for governments of most countries.
Factors such as population growth, rural-urban migration, inadequate affordable housing, weak planning and urban management, displacement caused by conflict, natural disaster and climate change contribute to the increase in informal settlements (UN-Habitat, 2015).
The favourable economic conditions are exacerbating the law of supply and demand.
The limited volume of real estate is beyond the reach of most Papua New Guineans.
The National Research Institute discussion paper No. 190 titled “Strategy to improve living conditions in informal settlements in Papua New Guinea: Evidence from Port Moresby” and Spotlight Volume 14, Issue 9 titled “Informal settlements must be upgraded in an effective and orderly manner” launched yesterday highlighted informal settlements residents were willing to pay for service charges associated with improved infrastructure and services, a study carried out on a number of informal settlements in Port Moresby revealed.
This was the residents’ reaction to the proposal of informal settlements undergoing an upgrading programme – a strategy to improve the living conditions and welfare of informal settlement residents and prevent further sprouting of settlements.
The informal settlement residents are willing to pay for service charges of infrastructure and services provided through upgrading the settlements.
The upgrade has the potential to increase land prices and house prices which may contribute to restricted access to affordable housing to these households.
Housing is one of the necessities, which is strongly linked to economic development of a country.
It has the potential to trigger the growth of several sectors of the economy.