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Affordable housing should be “at the centre of cities”: Joan Clos

By on 10/28/2014

Nairobi, 28 October 2014 – UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN-Habitat has said that affordable housing should be put back at the centre of cities, both in terms of planning and policy, and geographical location.

He made the comments at the launch of the report, “A blueprint for addressing the global affordable housing challenge” by the McKinsey Global Institute, the research arm of international private consulting firm, McKinsey.

“Housing affordability is becoming one of the most important problems worldwide, both in the developed and the developing world,” said Dr Clos.  “We will need to sharpen our tools to address this.”

“For too long we have put the economy and jobs at the centre of city planning and development,” he said.  He stressed that people are what make cities and they would follow the jobs.  It is now necessary to think about people’s needs, including where they will live, and put them at the centre of city development.

Principal Secretary for the Kenya Ministry of Land, Housing and Urban Development, Mariamu El Maawy, also spoke at the event, outlining the country’s efforts to provide affordable housing, especially to those living in informal settlements.  She stressed that the government was making all possible efforts to regularise land title deeds and that some irregularities would undoubtedly be found during the process but they would be rectified.

Lead author, McKinsey’s Sangeeth Ram, said that 180 families migrate to cities around the world every ten minutes and the cost to cities and citizens, measured in the report by the gap between “affordable housing cost” and actual housing costs, runs the trillions of dollars.

However, he emphasised that this posed an opportunity to urban planners and city leaders, stressing the need to dispel several myths about affordable housing provision, including the assumption that providing affordable housing required massive government resources.  By planning and providing a suitable regulatory framework, he said, cities could unlock the potential of private investment and private-public partnership.

Dr Clos concluded by saying that the report would make up part of the stock take on the road to the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, Habitat III, to take place in 2016.

For more on UN-Habitat’s work on housing, click here.

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