JUST the mere fact that one has a roof over their head, even if it is rented, is a source of dignity.
However, much more dignity and pride comes with ownership of shelter or housing.
For a country that is concerned about its citizenry’s dignity and well-being, housing is certainly one of the essential areas that should be given due attention.
It is heartening to learn that Government is actually alive to the fact that housing is not only key to national development but a source of dignity for human life.
This is why Government has been working to provide decent and affordable housing for its citizens as evidenced by a number of initiatives embarked on so far.
In yesterday’s edition, we carried a story in which NAPSA has just signed a memorandum of understanding with the Zambia National Building Society (ZNBS) to mortgage its 311 Northgate Gardens houses in Lusaka for a maximum of 30 years.
This is indeed good news and a great opportunity for many Zambians to own houses, especially if the terms of payment will be flexible and favourable.
It is gratifying that the MoU comes barely a month after Government launched an US$80 million private sector-driven rent-to-own housing scheme, which will benefit 20,000 civil servants and parastatal company employees.
The decision to mortgage the Northgate Gardens houses which comes after a directive from Minister of Labour and Social Security Joyce Simukoko early this year, will no doubt go a long way in empowering many Zambians as well as reducing the housing deficit which stands at 1.5 million and expected to leap to 3 million in 2030.
The move to mortgage the Northgate Gardens houses is indeed progressive as it will not only empower citizens but enable NAPSA to get returns on the houses which it built at a cost of K200 million.
We know that NAPSA has struggled to sell the houses, which were built two years ago, due to the high price.
While a few have been sold and occupied, many units have remained unoccupied from the time they were constructed.
This raised concern among various stakeholders describing the project as a white elephant.
It is, however, encouraging that a decision has been made to empower Zambians other than leaving the structures to deteriorate.
The self-contained three-bedroom houses which cost K575,000 each are being offered to members of the public either through a flexible payment plan of up to three months or the mortgage facility that has been arranged by NAPSA and ZNBS.
While the flexible plan of up to three months may not be within the reach of many citizens, the mortgage is certainly an offer they can jump on due to its competitiveness.
What makes this particular mortgage more competitive is the affordable interest rate of 14 percent and long payment period which goes up to 30 years.
We note that this is the first time Zambia is recording a mortgage tenure that long. The longest mortgage tenure on the market so far has been 15 years pushing the mortgage payment up due to the short period within which it must be repaid.
As rightly pointed out by the NAPSA board of trustees chairperson, Marian Munyinda, most mortgage facilities in the country have been highly priced and are above the reach of average Zambians.
It is commendable that NAPSA, through partnership with ZNBS, is providing that affordable alternative to accessing housing.
With the mortgage tenure of up to 30 years, individuals have the liberty to choose what period suits them according to their income.
The long tenure also gives an opportunity to those in low-income brackets to benefit from the facility.
It is our hope that many Zambians will take advantage of this golden opportunity to own houses.
Even for those who already have houses, it is an opportunity to own a second one which can be rented out. This, therefore, gives them an opportunity to transfer the mortgage payment to the tenant, while retaining ownership.
With more of such initiatives, we are confident that more citizens will be empowered and, at the same time the housing deficit reduced, as opposed to the leap projected for 2030.