The Sustainable Housing Ecosystems (SHE), a joint consortium between Altair, AMC, and Trellis announced to invest $50 million in Pakistan during the next three years, aimed at providing affordable homes to the lower and middle-income people of the country.
“The Consortium has already invested $50 million and provided 3,000 houses units to the lower and middle-income class”, said CEO of AMC, Jawad Aslam while addressing a roundtable conference “Resilient and Sustainable Housing for All: Delivering for People and Planet’ in Islamabad on the eve of the First International Housing Expo.
The goal of the event was to bring together key players in the housing industry and work towards building environmentally friendly projects across Pakistan. The participants noted that Pakistan has one of the lowest housing finance-to-GDP ratios of 0.25 percent compared to 3 percent in Bangladesh, 11 percent in India, and 70 percent in the EU. They observed with concern that around 30 percent I.e. 65 million people in Pakistan are facing house shortage and need around 10 million homes indicating that there is huge potential for investors.
Altair, a UK-based Organization, provides high-quality, creative solutions to the varied and dynamic challenges facing organizations in housing and they have delivered over 50,000 homes in addition to being the enabler of millions more homes in private and public ownership. AMC has developed sustainable and affordable housing projects across multiple cities in Pakistan. Trellis Housing Finance Limited, provides shariah complaint housing finance to people who are traditionally not catered to by the current financial institutions in the country.
Directors of Altair, Emma Ahmed & Ian McPherson OBE, the CEO of Trellis, Jamshed Meherhomji, and the CEO of AMC, Jawad Aslam hosted the Chief Guest, Iftikhar Ali Shallwani, the Secretary of Ministry of Housing & Works and other representatives from the Ministry of Housing & Works and Key Executives from IFC, Faysal Bank, Central Business District (CBD) Lahore, Ravi Urban Development Authority (RUDA), SECP and Zayn Capital.
There was widespread consensus among the attendees that the home-building effort across Pakistan should emphasize cleaning the significant benefits of energy-efficient and sustainable projects with minimal impact on the environment and maximizing affordability for the common man and woman. Participants highlighted the many opportunities available in the construction sector from the use of building machinery to construction materials and project planning.
Emma Ahmed stressed the need for sustainable development stating that “we have the capability within Pakistan to deliver sustainable housing at scale because we have already delivered a successful proof of concept. We must get policy, regulation, and investment aligned to support a significant scaling of the solution which has the ability to completely change lives for generations to come as well as protect against future economic and climate shocks”.
Jawad Aslam was of a similar opinion. He pointed out the need for affordability as a key driver within the sector. He noted, “Government support is required to reduce the timeline for approvals and provide access to their database of pre-approved customers requiring housing. This will increase the ROI of such projects and this makes them more attractive to investors and developers alike, thus facilitating them to be executed at a greater scale and producing maximum impact”.
The lack of financing in this sector has been a major bottleneck for new, sustainable housing projects. Jamshed Meherhomji pointed out that the private sector can contribute by “Providing adequate investments and credit facilities on viable terms so that housing finance companies can deploy it and allow people to climb onto the property ladder and create generational wealth”.
Of course, the effort to build sustainable housing with minimum ecological impact will require public sector support from the government as well. In this regard, the GoP is already taking some positive steps, such as the focus on reducing red tape, lower rate financing for the housing sector, and tax reliefs for clean energy machinery and materials.
Overall, the attendees were optimistic about the future. The majority believe that the Government of Pakistan can drive the effort to address housing and related concerns, supported by capable and dedicated policy designers, experts, and informed advocates from the private sector.
Secretary Housing and Works stated that there is a dire need of changing mindset and to grow vertically instead of the current horizontal approach. He further said that many industrialists as well as foreign-educated people are moving to the real estate business due to good profits.
The Secretary also stressed affordable housing schemes for the lower and middle-income classes.