Housing is a human right and a source of dignity for all people including the haves and the have nots. The importance of housing to mankind especially amid the COVID 19 pandemic has proven to be more important to the survival of people than ever before.
It is for this reason that the Tenants Union of Ghana is reminding the government of Ghana the need to prioritized housing and make all people enjoy their inalienable human rights to adequate housing through initiatives to allow every living soul to access cheaper and affordable housing.
It is on record that more than 5.5 million Ghanaians now live in squalor environments and slums without any access to adequate housing. The lack of commitment by the government to invest and build low-income housing has opened Ghana’s housing market to be traded as a commodity where the rich benefit at the expense of the poor in society. The poor are technically knocked out as a result of their inability to secure affordable housing due to the rising cost of housing in Ghana.
According to the provisions under Ghana’s National Housing Policy launched in 2015, the implementation of the National Housing Policy would help to increase housing supply by creating the enabling environment for the private sector to invest in rental housing at an affordable cost by using local and low-cost building materials.
Countries all over the world including Ghana are asking their citizens to practice social distancing and personal hygiene to protect the citizenry from catching the deadly novel Corona Virus, yet, the government of Ghana and others elsewhere calling for social
distancing have failed to create the enabling environment to enable people to access adequate housing by failing to increase the production of housing and supply to avoid overcrowding in our homes where observing of social distancing is practically impossible but yet they create scenes to show that they care for the citizenry. This is very worrying just to say the least.
It is, therefore, our humble plea that the Government of Ghana considers investing in public and social housing to create opportunities for persons interested in renting to do so without any constraint due to economic hardship and the rising cost of private rental housing. Amid this COVID 19, we ask that our government accedes to the following:
- Establish an emergency bye-law to put a moratorium on all evictions by landlords and property owners, and makes it an offence punishable by law for a landlord or property owners to evict a tenant who is indebted and owes rent during this COVID 19 crisis
- That, all necessary steps are taken to immediately institute programs and initiatives by the government to increase social housing and the supply of low – income housing for the urban poor to benefit from.
- We recommend that government commit to converting the housing units built and completed by the former government under President Mahama at Saglemi to a Social housing status instead of affordable housing which only the rich benefit at the expense of the poor, as low - income households constitute the majority of the poor in Ghana.
- That the government with immediate effect through the Minister of Housing announces a concrete relief package to provide financial assistance and rental payments funds for tenants in need
The Tenants Union of Ghana on behalf of tenants in Ghana wish to extend our appreciation and sincere thanks to the President of the Republic, Nana Akuffo Addo for his magnanimity in providing free water and absorbing 50% of electricity bills for all residential tenants, and at large households to alleviate the untold hardship that the novel Coronavirus has brought upon us.
We also thank the housing ministry under the leadership of Hon. Atta Akyea for committing to providing direct financial assistance to tenants who need financial support to settle their indebtedness on rents to their landlords provided the hardship is as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic.