State intervention in addressing housing deficits in Ghana: Implications for SDGs

Housing is not just a roof over one’s head; it is a cornerstone of human dignity, security, and stability. Yet, in Ghana, a severe housing deficit continues to pose significant challenges, impacting millions of lives and stifling national development. This article delves into the pressing issue of housing in Ghana, exploring the critical role of the state in mitigating this crisis.

It also highlights how addressing housing challenges is integral to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), ensuring that no one is left behind. Through an examination of government initiatives and future directions, this piece aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the state’s efforts and the broader implications for sustainable development.

The Current State of Housing in Ghana

Ghana’s housing deficit stands at an alarming 1.8 million units, a figure that continues to grow with the country’s rapid urbanization and population increase. The shortage has led to overcrowded living conditions, the proliferation of informal settlements, and inflated housing costs, which further marginalize low and middle-income earners.

The housing crisis not only impacts individual well-being but also hinders economic growth and social stability. Addressing this deficit is crucial to achieving several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 1 (No Poverty), SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-being), and SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities).

Housing has long been a contentious issue, with differing views on whether the state should be involved in its provision. Some argue that the state should not interfere in the housing market, while others contend that the state has a fundamental responsibility to ensure that all citizens have access to decent housing.

This paper supports the latter view, positing that the state indeed has a duty to provide housing for its citizens. This responsibility is underscored by the constitutional mandate and the imperative to uphold human dignity. Article 15 of the Constitution of Ghana states that “the dignity of all persons shall be inviolable.” This principle underscores the importance of housing as a fundamental human right.

Adequate housing is essential for maintaining human dignity, health, and well-being. It is within this context that the state’s role becomes paramount in ensuring that this basic need is met for all citizens. Providing decent housing contributes directly to SDG 3 by improving health outcomes and promoting well-being.

Government Initiatives and Interventions

Recognizing the urgency of the housing crisis, the government of Ghana, under the leadership of His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has initiated several policies aimed at addressing housing challenges. These initiatives are designed to respond to both the demand and supply sides of affordable housing, thereby improving living conditions across the country. These efforts support SDG 11, which emphasizes the need for inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable cities.

National Home Ownership Fund (formerly National Housing and Mortgage Finance Initiative): The National Home Ownership Fund (NHOF) is a strategic effort to provide affordable housing to low and middle-income earners. The initiative involves partnerships with private banks to construct affordable housing units while offering mortgage and construction financing options that make home ownership more accessible.

Additionally, government also introduced the Affordable Housing Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) that have been supporting Rent-to-Own schemes as part of efforts to increase access to homeo wnership. These initiatives align with SDG 1 by helping to reduce poverty through increased access to affordable housing.

Affordable Housing Project: This project aims to bridge the housing gap by constructing affordable homes nationwide. By utilizing cost-effective building materials and innovative construction techniques, the project seeks to reduce costs without compromising quality, thereby making housing more accessible to a broader segment of the population. This contributes to SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure) by promoting sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation.

Regulatory Framework: To ensure sustainable housing development, the Ghanaian government has implemented policies to regulate the real estate market. These include incentives for private developers of affordable housing, stricter zoning laws, and measures to prevent speculative practices that inflate prices.

The regulatory framework is bolstered by the Real Estate Agency Council (REAC), which oversees real estate transactions, ensures transparency and accountability, licenses agents, and enforces standards to prevent fraud. These efforts support SDG 16 (Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions) by promoting fair and transparent practices in the housing market.

National Rent Assistance Scheme (NRAS): Launched to address the challenges faced by renters, the NRAS provides financial assistance to eligible low and middle-income households. The scheme offers support with rent advances, making it easier for individuals and families to secure housing without the burden of large upfront payments. This initiative directly addresses SDG 1 by alleviating the financial strain on low-income households.

Community Affordable Housing Initiatives by State Housing Company Limited (SHC): The SHC has undertaken several community-based affordable housing projects, such as the Asokore-Mampong Affordable Housing Project.

This project focuses on constructing high-quality, affordable residential units in strategic locations, providing homes to low and middle-income earners. This supports SDG 11 by promoting sustainable urban development.

Urban Redevelopment by Tema Development Corporation (TDC): The TDC has been instrumental in Tema’s Community 25 Housing Project. This initiative focuses on developing planned residential estates that include modern amenities and infrastructure, offering affordable housing solutions while ensuring proper urban planning.

Similarly, the Company also embarked on several in-filling initiatives in Tema Community 3 as part of efforts to increase access to housing options while optimizing the use of prime land and infrastructure in the acquisition area. These interventions. These interventions align with SDG 11 by ensuring cities are inclusive and sustainable.

Conclusion and the BENCH 2024 Platform

The housing crisis in Ghana presents a significant challenge that requires urgent and sustained government intervention. The state has a critical role to play in ensuring that all citizens have access to decent and affordable housing, as enshrined in the constitution and international human rights frameworks.

By prioritizing housing in national development agendas and implementing innovative solutions, the government can create a more equitable society where every individual has the opportunity to live in dignity and security.

Addressing the housing challenges in Ghana is not just a matter of policy but a moral imperative. The state’s active involvement in the housing sector is essential to overcoming the current deficit and ensuring a brighter future for all Ghanaians.

Through strategic initiatives, increased investment, and effective regulation, Ghana can move towards a reality where adequate housing is a right enjoyed by every citizen. Furthermore, achieving this goal is integral to realizing the Sustainable Development Goals, ensuring that no one is left behind in the journey towards sustainable development and human dignity.

The maiden Built Environment National Conference on Housing and Hydrology (BENCHH) offers a unique opportunity to delve deeper into these issues. This conference, set to take place on July 2-4, 2024, at the Labadi Beach Hotel, will bring together policymakers, industry leaders, and stakeholders to discuss and develop actionable strategies for tackling Ghana’s housing and hydrology challenges.

By engaging in these discussions, we can collectively share best practices, foster collaboration and drive progress towards sustainable housing solutions that align with the SDGs, ensuring that Ghana’s future generations have access to the homes they need and deserve.

The author is the Deputy Minister for Works and Housing and Member of Parliament for Kwesimintsim. He previously served as the Director-General of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NaCCA) and consulted for several projects funded by prominent international organisations such as The World Bank, UKAID, USAID, and the UN Education Commission in Ghana.

By Prince Hamid Armah, PhD


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