Bahrain will not meet housing targets - minister

Deadline set by predecessor for 50,000 homes in 5 years won't be hit

NEWS, Business, Affordable housing, Bahrain

Bahrain’s new housing minister has conceded he will not meet a five-year deadline to clear the country’s exceptionally long waiting list for public housing set by his predecessor, according to Gulf Daily News.

Housing Minister Bassem Al Hamer said the goal announced in 2011 to build 50,000 homes across the country was unrealistic and could not be achieved in the time frame.

The island kingdom needs at least 40,000 more affordable homes, one of the highest figures in the GCC, according to Jones Lang LaSalle.

There are more than 50,000 families on the waiting list for government housing, according to official Bahraini figures. They are waiting up to 18 years.

However, Al Hamer said a record number of housing projects were being built, with BHD300m (US$795m) worth of developments funded this year in the Northern Town, Hidd and Sitra.

Bahrain's Housing Ministry also last year signed a landmark BHD208m ($551m) Public Private Partnership agreement with local real estate company Nassej to build 3,110 social housing units and 1,042 low-cost homes in the Northern City, Al Buhair and Al Lawzi.

The deal was a first in the GCC and is due to be completed by early 2015.

"We are aware that there is a long waiting list for housing and we are working on it," Al Hamer told Gulf Daily News.

"The five-year plan has already been initiated and has been approved by the Cabinet.

"In fact we are currently hitting a record number of housing projects."

MPs on Tuesday came up with a 12-point housing plan to speed up the handover of public housing and improve the system for calculating low-interest housing loans, according to Gulf Daily News.

The five-year deadline was set by former housing minister Majeed Al Alawi in 2011. He pledged to reduce the waiting list time for government homes from 18 years to five years by building 50,000 homes at a cost of approximately BD2bn.

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