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Iraq To Finance New Housing To Ease Shortage

Iraq is in desperate need of investment in housing, especially for low-income families.
Iraq is in desperate need of investment in housing, especially for low-income families.
BAGHDAD -- Iraq's Planning and Development Ministry says it plans to improve city life in the country through better urban planning and the construction of modern homes, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq reports.

Planning and Development Ministry spokesman Abdul Zahra Hindawi told RFE/RL on World Habitat Day on October 3 that Iraq faced big, complex problems regarding housing and the development of its towns and cities.

"Most Iraqi cities are surrounded by and contain areas that were built in an unorganized way, with no respect to any previous urban planning," he said, adding that the goal of the ministry's housing plan for 2010-14 was to build inexpensive housing units specifically for low-income families.

Hindawi added that "we have also succeeded in finding enough funds for these new projects.... We will announce this [information] very soon."

Iraqi officials estimate Iraq needs at least 3 million housing units to satisfy demand. Many Iraqis currently live in tent shelters or dilapidated housing because of the housing shortage.

Deputy Housing Minister Istabraq al-Shoke admitted during a speech in Baghdad on October 3 that the lack of housing in Iraq was a huge problem that needed urgent attention.

He also announced that his ministry had received a special allocation of money for housing projects in the 2012 budget specially designated for low-income residents.

"We should be able to face these problems and solve them at each and every level," Shoke told RFE/RL, insisting that the private sector must play a significant role in resolving Iraq's housing problems.

Iraqi-based financial analyst Thaer Faili says that Iraq should seek more foreign investment for its building efforts. He also blames the government for not giving the private sector the necessary tools to play a greater role.