Low-income housing development challenges facing satellite towns: Case study of Mlolongo Township

Housing is the provision of shelter; an abode to live in. Shelter should be adequate, affordable
and decent. Adequate in that there are enough good quality rental and owner occupier housing
units for low income households. Affordable in that total housing costs are affordable to those
that have low income. Decent in that it provides a foundation for good physical and mental
health, personal development and fulfilment of life objectives. Affordable housing is however a
major problem here in Kenya particularly in most satellite towns. Informal settlements and slums
have continued to grow and a large percentage of the urban population lives here. The slums
are characterized by congested tin roofed and mud houses. There is also poor infrastructure
with regards to sewerage system, electricity, clean water and access roads.
The overall demand for housing according to a UN Habitat survey is 150,000 housing units as
compared to 35,000 housing units being delivered in the market annually. The supply shortage
has left private developers focusing on highest return market segments which are the upper
income class. It has been cited that the housing problem cannot be solved starting at the bottom
because the poor will still be overshadowed. Houses meant for the lower end could still be
snapped up by individuals in the higher income class thereby distorting prices and displacing
the target market for the low income housing The solution would be for the government and
socially motivated entrepreneurs to offer homes for the bottom end of the market while
commercial players and maximum profit driven entrepreneurs take care of the upper income
segment (Macharia, 2011).
The research study focuses on examining the challenges of providing low-income housing in
satellite towns (case study of Mlolongo). Challenges identified included the high cost of land in
urban areas, the complicated land acquisition process, high transaction costs, outdated
planning and building regulations, and the lack of adequate infrastructure. The research
concludes that the only way to arrest acute shortage of low cost housing is for the municipal
council of Mavoko to partner with relevant agencies to improve the supply.


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