In its efforts to address the housing problem in Kakamega, the county government has launched an Sh8 billion project to construct 3,000 units.
The government is partnering with a private construction company, Pinnie Agency Limited, to put up the affordable housing units in five estates in Kakamega and Mumias towns.
The private developer signed the Joint Venture Agreement with Kakamega County Investment and Development Agency (KCIDA) on Tuesday paving the way for the construction works.
KCIDA was established by an Act of the County Assembly of Kakamega in 2018 and mandated to identify development partners to promote investment across the county.
Area governor Wycliffe Oparanya who presided over the groundbreaking ceremony for the project at Mudiri estate in Lurambi sub-county on Tuesday said their plan is to end the housing crisis in the county. The project will be implemented in three phases.
The governor said the houses will be sold to both county and national government workers at competitive rates. A few will be reserved for the public.
"We took into consideration sustainability of the affordable housing initiative when deciding the costs," Oparanya said noting the units will go for between Sh1 million and Sh3 million, under a Tenants Purchase Scheme (TPS).
He added: "Public servants will get first priority. County staff will be required to start by paying 20 per cent of the required price for the housing units and the remaining amount will be deducted from their salaries. This will be part of the retirement package for our staff."
TPS refers to a house-ownership plan which allows tenants, in public housing estates, to purchase the flats or residences they have rented. Under the arrangement, the rent one pays goes towards redeeming the purchase price, and the house title is transferred to the buyer as soon as they have paid off the whole amount.
Under this arrangement, the price of the house is normally lower than the market price of private flats owing to restrictions on selling the houses.
Oparanya said most of the houses - up to 70 per cent - will go to public servants while the public will take the rest.
"Public servants will access the houses through a mortgage scheme while members of the public will be allowed to buy or rent the houses to generate income for the government," said Oparanya.
"These houses will stabilise house rent in Kakamega and other urban centres in the county and reduce exploitation of tenants by landlords," he said as he urged the contractor to source construction material and labour locally.
Oparanya defended his administration's decision to flatten Mudiri estate and pave the way for the project saying: "The demolition adhered to the procedures as required by relevant government agencies, including the National Environmental Management Authority."
"As we work towards the elevation of Kakamega Municipality to a city, we have to ensure correct measures are put in place in various sectors such as housing, infrastructure, water, sanitation, and sewerage among others. All these will be key as we prepare Kakamega to become the fifth city in Kenya," said Oparanya.