A million housing units are unoccupied, housing allocated to non-needy beneficiaries, families living in garages or crammed into small apartments, soaring rents and corruption ongoing in the distribution of social housing... These are the main conclusions of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Raquel Rolnik contained in her report on housing in Algeria.
The report, compiled after a visit by the UN rapporteur in Algeria in July 2011, points to the government housing policy. The Algerian politics of housing is not addressed, the report notes [sic], such that the huge difference between supply and demand on housing prevails in Algeria.
In the capital, one third of the population has applied to be housed between 1999 and 2010, says the report, of which TsA has obtained a copy. Ms. Rolnik recognizes the government`s efforts since 1999 to reduce the housing crisis, but it involves weak policies to achieve this. During her visit to Algeria, she noted the enormous suffering of Algerians in accessing adequate housing, the report said. The housing market is not easily accessible to the majority of the population due to speculation and prohibitive rents, which have increased fivefold between 2005 and 2010, the source added. Paradoxically, it was during this period that the government launched the construction of many homes.
40% of Housing Allocated to People under 30 Years
Raquel Rolnik was critical of the daïra commissions, which are responsible for distributing social housing, and the marginalization of civil society and the public in the formulation of housing policies. These commissions “have a margin of discretion which opens the door to patronage and corruption, says Raquel Rolnik. She is concerned about the appeals lodged by applicants for housing that go unsupported by the authorities. The posting of the lists of social housing beneficiaries has often been followed by riots and protests, reflecting the lack of trust between the people and authorities, the report added.
Ms. Rolnik notes in her report the development of the black market in illegal rental of social housing and cooperative housing. Housing units are alleged to have been assigned, bypassing the existing procedures, to ineligible persons, who then sublet or sell them at a high price, in violation of the law, says the report. It goes on to state that 40% of dwellings are allocated to applicants aged under 30, while those aged 35 to 50 years are in more urgent need of housing and are more likely to demand housing assistance; whereas “applicants for housing under 35 years of age account for 9.07 per cent of all registered applications, as against 46.14 per cent for applicants aged 35 to 50 years of age,” according to the report said.
More worryingly, the majority of beneficiaries of social housing do not pay the rent. Raquel Rolnik included in her report, citing authorities, that only 14% of housing in Algeria are not occupied, equivalent to one million units. She notes the lack of statistics on the actual demand for housing, and deplores the difficult living conditions of many families who live in neighborhoods without any amenities, in garages, hotel rooms or crammed into small apartments. She also noted that families continue to occupy the temporary housing awarded to victims of the earthquake that struck the region of Algiers in 2003.
[Translated from French]