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It is all about one word, HOME. Since registrations for the new government housing schemes was announced, long lines of people at the different branches of the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) have been a common scene in Addis Ababa.  People are rushing to open bank accounts and the get forms filled out; there is so much chaos that it seemed as though it was the only opportunity to own a house. Or is it?
Housing is still an issue; a big one. As more and more residential areas are destroyed to make way for new roads or big buildings, more and more people are depending on Government housing. So, when the announcement was made to register for the housing schemes, people were more than happy to sacrifice time from work, or many other important activities, to go and wait in line.
In some instances, it had gone to the extent that married people had started to divorce to become house owners in their own right. Some comment that this kind of behavior is being selfish and irresponsible, but I think, in a way, it shows how desperate people have become. People are desperate to be able to have their own house; as a safety net or a source of income, and it is what they will be able to leave for their kids to inherit when they die. Is it really so unimaginable that people would take such extreme measures, such as getting divorced, to be able to own a place to live in? I don’t think so.
There have been new schemes that have been introduced this time around, such as the 10/90 scheme, which is intended to meet the housing needs of low income households earning a little more than one thousand birr per month.
This scheme, put in place to help poor people benefit, is said to have received fewer applicants than the other scheme, the 20/80. Off the top of my head, I would say that this indicates the gap between the ‘have’ and ‘have not’.
It seems as though there are those with middle income, those with low income and those with even lesser income who are not able to register for the 10/90 scheme as they can’t afford to save a 100 something birr per month.
And then there are the 20/80 and 40/60 schemes for those with “middle income”. I think we can confidently say that the reference “middle income” means noting if it includes everybody from every level or class.
Your earnings sets you in the middle-income bracket and you stand in line for hours trying to register for the housing scheme, but in the end you are competing with a minority who are able to pay off the money needed for the house all at once. To add insult to injury, now, Ethiopians living abroad are also eligible to register for the 40/60 housing scheme. So now you are up against people who most definitely have more income than you, and the inflation also helps here. I don’t understand the logic behind this decision by the government. How are people expected to compete with this exactly? Where is the fair play?
In addition to the 330,000 residents who registered for the 20/80 scheme, when it first started, 1.3 to three million more people are expected to register. I wonder how many of those would actually be middle income people.
Those who already have houses seem to be living in constant fear that their residential area is next on the list of areas set aside for developmental projects. Those whose areas appear to be on the list have gone house renting and also live in fear of never getting the opportunity or at least wait for years to get a condominium, and priority is given to people with more money.
These issues will probably continue to be raised for years to come, not just in Addis Ababa, but also in up-and-coming cities around the country. It seems as though all we can do is keep the faith, be positive and try being first in line, following the procedure and waiting in patience for our house to somehow materialize. It is either that or somehow become magically rich overnight.