More than a hundred families in Thimphu will be able to settle in affordable homes once the National Housing Development Corporation or NHDCL start constructing another batch of buildings this year. This is to address the capital’s growing housing shortage and affordability issues. Currently, there is a shortage of about 2000 housing units in the capital according to the Infrastructure and Transport ministry.
After the Changjiji housing colony was built 17 years ago, the government stopped constructing public houses in Thimphu. However, inflation and growing demand for residential houses have fuelled rental cost of buildings over the years. The government accordingly approved the National Housing Policy in 2020, allowing the NHDCL to construct new housing units in the capital.
Sonam Dorji, an urban economist with the Department of Human Settlement said that most of the current stock of NHDCL’s housing stock are old which were built in the 1970s and 1980s. “The NHDCL is building around 110 housing units in Thimphu distributed across all local area plans and neighbourhoods. We are also looking at the allotment rules and the currently occupying residents through the lens of household income and not individual’s income and their occupation. Whether they are civil servants or not, I don’t think it should matter because the government should supply social houses for all.”
Meanwhile, the Thimphu Structure Plan 2002-2027 is currently being reviewed after it was implemented for about eighteen years. The revision began in 2021 and is expected to be complete by June this year. The revision will focus on a range of subjects such as land use, transport and community infrastructure among others with a special emphasis on housing development.
“As part of the review of Thimphu Structure Plan, we are looking at housing very closely. We are projecting what is the housing requirement till 2047. Also, with that, it will come up with a plan for National Housing Development and the private sector,” Sonam Dorji added.
A 2021 survey says that there are almost 130,000 residents in Thimphu Thromde and about 29,500 housing units.
The Department of Human Settlement’s Housing Market Demand Survey conducted in 2021 showed that around 60 percent of the lower income group’s salary is spent on house rents in Thimphu. Economists say this is an indication that housing rental is not affordable.
Meanwhile, there are around 450 private buildings under construction in Thimphu according to the Infrastructure and Transport Ministry. 18 more constructions have yet to start. Once the constructions are over which they say will be in about two years time, the housing crunch in Thimphu is expected to be eased in the foreseeable future. However, growing population in the capital could mean the issue is far from over.
Edited by Kipchu
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