People can now expect to get affordable public houses in Thimphu and across the country. The government housing colonies have been limited to civil servants so far, but the National Housing Development Corporation will make public affordable houses available to everyone from April. Meanwhile, for the first time in over a decade, the NHDCL has also revised rents for its houses.
People in need of affordable houses are those who have a lower household income. While there are affordable government-constructed houses across the country, it was not available to people outside the civil service.
The NHDCL’s new reform would allow housing allotments to even private employees. This allotment will be based on the gross income of a household.
“So, it will be income-based allotment now. Of course, there are other criteria as well, but this would be the main criteria. We have come up with about four different income bands starting from ten thousand and will go all the way to thirty thousand. So, each income band will be eligible for a certain type of category,” said Rinchen Wangdi, the Chief Executive Officer of NHDCL.
Tenants will be allowed to occupy public affordable houses for a maximum period of ten years. Currently, the NHDCL is working on an online application system, which is expected to be open to the public in April.
Meanwhile, the new rental revision is aimed at the sustainability of public houses. So far, the rents were charged at a rate fixed by the finance ministry, which was based on the actual floor area and not the cost of construction.
“For example, investment to build a property and normally the rents are set based on how much you have invested. So, these things were never taken into consideration. Because of this low revenue, NHDCL has been struggling to maintain the properties because most of the properties that were transferred to us were in very bad shape. Even now, some of the properties are as old as fifty years old and you need to invest a lot of money to make it in a liveable condition,” added the Chief Executive Officer.
The reforms in the eligibility criteria for affordable public houses have delighted the people and they are looking forward to moving into government housing.
“I get Nu 11,000 as salary but have to pay Nu 6,500 as house rent. And with the leftover money, it is hard to sustain. So, if the government allows private employees to avail public affordable housing units, then we will be able to help our family and spend some for ourselves,” said Dorji Peldon, a private employee.
“I am very happy that from now on even private and corporate employees can live in public houses. It is going to benefit people like us with low income. Some private employees hold bigger posts but with low income, so it will benefit us all,” said Dawa Drakpa, a corporate employee.
“If everyone can get the opportunity to live in a housing colony then it is going to benefit people like us, especially with low income. Then we can also do some savings. House rents and the prices of goods are high in Thimphu compared to other districts,” said Yeshey Choden, also a corporate employee.
Apart from Wangdue Phodrang, Bumthang, and Haa, the NHDCL has over 600 buildings across the country.
The corporation plans to build more than a hundred buildings with over 1,000 housing units in Thimphu, Phuentshogling, Samtse, Trashi Yangtse, and Nganglam.
Edited by Sherub Dorji
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