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Homes for homeless and middle-income families: Prioritising housing needs

By Uwin Lugoda

The Government has recently expedited the development of two schemes to build homes for 800 middle-income families.

The Urban Development Authority (UDA) recently announced the acceleration of the two new projects under the first phase of the housing plan, which looks to provide a total of 3,000 houses to middle-income families. This was a result of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s directive, where he requested that the housing schemes being built in Pannipitiya and Kottawa be expedited.

Speaking to The Sunday Morning, UDA Director General Prasad Ranaweera stated that the Pannipitiya “Viyathpura Housing Project” complex will host 500 houses, while the Kottawa “Green Arcade Apartment” complex will host 300 houses.

“The recently expedited construction of both new middle-income housing schemes is being done under the guidance of State Minister of Urban Development, Sewage Disposal, and Public Sanitation Dr. Nalaka Godahewa and Ministry of Urban Development and Housing Secretary Sirinimal Perera. Our goal is to complete both these schemes by 30 June 2022,” said Ranaweera.

These two schemes are being carried out under an umbrella project focused on building housing schemes for 3,000 middle-income families across the country. According to the UDA, the project is an extension of a low-income housing initiative, which was initiated during 2009-2014 when the Prime Minister was the President.

Ranaweera also pointed out that the project is in line with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s vision to provide homes for homeless, middle-income families, according to his “Vision for Prosperity and Splendour” policy statement.

“The project is taking place alongside similar projects, providing housing for low-income families and other disadvantaged families,” Rathnaweera said.

Speaking to The Sunday Morning, Dr. Godahewa stated that this project is also connected to other development projects such as the beautification of Colombo.

“During the 2009-2014 regime, we focused on giving housing to Sri Lankan citizens, with an emphasis on low-income families. This was the ‘Regeneration of Colombo City’ project, where we planned to move 60,000 slum dwellers into better housing. At that time, we were only able to move about 20,000, but we have since completed this task,” he said.

He stated that inspired by this, the UDA was now building 3,000 middle-income houses, within a price range of Rs. 10 million to Rs. 17 million, with a 13-year loan given to whoever is buying them. Considered the first of its kind in Sri Lanka, the State Minister explained that the project aims to build 30,000 to 50,000 houses in the next four years.

Dr. Godahewa explained that these houses will be mostly funded by the UDA, with the remaining being private-public partnerships (PPP), where the Government provides the land as equity for a private entity to invest in.

“We believe that bringing down the price range of these houses will interest people into moving into more apartments. With the help of the private sector, we will be able to complete at least 100,000 to 200,000 middle-income houses, and if we get the public excited about these apartments, the private sector will greatly benefit as well,” he added.

Under Dr. Godahewa’s supervision, the housing project is set to be an attractive development due to it being in accordance with prescribed standards. The first 3,000 houses were set to be constructed in Orugodawatta, Peliyagoda, Kottawa, Bloemendal, Boralesgamuwa, Malabe, and Getambe (Kandy District).

The latest schemes to begin development out of these were the Viyathpura Housing Project in Pannipitiya and the Green Arcade Apartment complex in Kottawa.

The complex in Pannipitiya consists of nine floors and has plans to finish work on the first four units by 31 March 2022. This scheme consists of 500 A, B, and C-type houses, each measuring 1,050 sq ft, 950 sq ft, and 750 sq ft, respectively. These houses will be priced from Rs. 10.5 million to Rs. 14.7 million, respectively.

“Currently, 187 houses in the complex are being booked by private buyers. Out of the remaining houses, 50 houses have been allocated for the Sri Lankan Navy, 101 houses for the Ministry of Defence, and 147 houses for the Sri Lankan parliamentarians. We have also installed a 40-car parking lot for outsiders,” said Ranaweera.

Ranaweera stated that 58.8% of the construction work of the Green Arcade Apartment complex was completed by 30 September 2021. It is scheduled for completion in June 2022.

“Just like the Pannipitiya complex, this one has three types of houses, which are A, B, and C, with similar square feet (spaces). Each of these houses is priced between Rs. 13.1 million and Rs. 18.4 million, and all 300 houses have been reserved at the request of the Ministry of Defence,” he explained.

A 750 sq ft house within the scheme hosts two rooms and a toilet, the 950 sq ft house has three rooms and two toilets, and the 1,050 sq ft house has three bedrooms and three toilets. These features are the same for both the Pannipitiya and Kottawa complexes.

Each of the two housing schemes will also host five shops, one restaurant, and several other facilities. The houses will also come fully equipped and are built to protect the privacy of anyone living in them.

While both the UDA and the State Engineering Corporation of Sri Lanka are supervising the construction of these housing projects, the houses were designed by Harsha G. Peiris and constructed by Sathuta Builders (Pvt.) Ltd.