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Housing crisis brewing

Jun 22,2018 - Last updated at Jun 22,2018

It seems that a serious housing crisis in the country is brewing, which necessitates the new government to look into its causes and to address it before it places further pressure on the already-burdened public.

According to President of the Jordan Housing Developers Association (JHDA) Zuhair Omari, this crisis is getting bigger, unless some drastic actions are undertaken.

The problem is of various dimensions. For starters, the JHDA is now reporting that, while there are plenty of houses that are expensive and luxurious available on the market, affordable housing for the middle and lower classes is rarely found.

It seems apartments less than 110 sq.m in size are very much in demand, but zoning regulations and municipal by-laws prohibit the construction of the smaller size apartments and force upon developers the construction of bigger size housing units that are beyond the reach of most people, especially the young ones who are approaching the age of marriage and want to settle down and raise a family on the basis of their low salaries.

The JHDA says that the real estate market has, therefore, declined by 7 per cent in the first quarter of 2018 to JD1.399 billion, down from JD1.505 billion for the same period last year.

It is estimated that the total value of housing units built from 2015 to date, which remain unsold, is put at JD 1 billion. On the top of poor market conditions due to high unemployment, unfair wages and a slowing economy, local authorities impose cumbersome regulations on the housing sector and apply prohibitive taxes and fees. The influx of 1.5 million refugees from Syria and Iraq, who compete with Jordanians for affordable housing, is among the main constraints.

The new government must, therefore, consider adopting measures to increase social housing for the very poor, and relax existing rules and regulations on developers to accommodate the housing needs of the middle class Jordanians.

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