In an appeal to the nation’s workers, President William Ruto fortified his commitment to the Housing Fund, emphasizing its potential benefits for all, and specifically targeted towards empowering lower-income citizens with home ownership. Despite critics’ resistance, he underscored that all workers, even homeowners or those currently servicing mortgages, must contribute to assist less-privileged counterparts.
President Ruto rebuked workers’ representatives who objected to the proposed 3 per cent levy on workers’ salaries, matched by their employers, capped at Sh5,000 per month. Accusing them of prioritizing employers’ interests, he strongly defended the National Housing Development Fund, a program he affectionately termed the “hustler’s mortgage.”
In the course of pushing for the approval of the proposal in the Finance Bill 2023, the President asserted that this plan is the key to granting low-income Kenyans access to home ownership. “Every Member of Parliament and County Assembly Member has a mortgage. It’s time to plan the ‘hustler’s mortgage’ within the housing fund. We need to pool our resources to create opportunities for regular citizens to secure a mortgage,” Ruto explained.
His comments came during the inaugural ceremony for the Lapfund Bellevue Park Residence Project in Nairobi, an affordable housing initiative anticipated to construct 2,350 units.
President Ruto insisted that the fund is not a liability but an opportunity, encouraging workers to compel their employers to contribute. “If an employee contributes Sh1,000, their employer must match it. Thus, even before you start, your contribution doubles, guaranteeing your investment in your future home,” he explained.
The President further reiterated his stance on high-income earners aiding those with lesser means to obtain homes, stating, “The pathway to enabling ordinary citizens to own homes on their limited income is through collective effort. If you can manage a Sh20,000 mortgage, you should also support low-income earners to afford Sh4,000 or Sh5,000.”
He also voiced concerns about certain leaders in his camp attempting to derail the scheme, insinuating that these individuals had prior knowledge of its execution during pre-election campaigns.
President Ruto ardently believes that the affordable housing program will create job opportunities for the estimated one million youths exiting learning institutions yearly, while also providing a market for thousands of Jua Kali artisans involved in house construction.
The President’s vision entails increasing the proportion of affordable houses built in the country from the current 1 per cent to 50 per cent of all houses, with the annual number of houses built escalating from 50,000 to 200,000.
“The contribution you make to the housing fund is not a tax, it’s your money,” he affirmed.
In a further demonstration of commitment, President Ruto announced several measures to alleviate hurdles in affordable housing construction. These include securing 4,000 acres of free land from county governments in 41 counties, eliminating taxes on affordable housing inputs, and standardizing measures for inputs.