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Integration of publicly-sponsored housing programs with the development plan : cases of Ghana and Israel Poku, Sam

Abstract

The purpose of the study is to substantiate and document the notion that, if government-sponsored housing is effectively integrated with the development plan, it can constitute an effective tool for socioeconomic development. The use of housing as an instrument for economic development is widely recognized by many developing countries, including Ghana. Since housing, urban and regional planning, constitute some of the elements of development planning, they can no more be allowed to operate in isolation than can any other major activity. Based on the findings of empirical studies and theoretical viewpoints, it is indicated that housing can contribute to worker productivity and external economies. In the first instance, it is noted that housing conditions certainly have some effect on health and longevity, hence productivity. In the latter case, some external economies can be reaped if, for example, resource development in a remote location is supported with housing to attract workers or to prevent wasteful commuting. Thus, housing can be used to positively influence the emerging geographic pattern of economic activities which itself determines, by and large, the new pattern of land use, population distribution, and functional organization of cities and settlements. It is pointed out that the question of implementing housing schemes should be concerned with how best to handle inevitable changes in the social environment in the early stages of economic development through proper planning. A case study of Israel is presented to illustrate that housing could be adapted to economic development by treating housing programs as some of the essential elements of the development plan. It is argued that the contribution of housing to the economic advancement of Israel, much as it is hard if not impossible to evaluate in isolation, cannot be dismissed as insignificant. The conscious manner in which housing programs are effectively integrated with development planning, it is pointed out, should serve as a lesson to other developing nations. Israel's experience demonstrates, and would seem to support, the notion that housing can be used to support agricultural developments, industrial activities, and even as an instrument for population dispersal calculated to foster economic development. Using several criteria based on the Israeli experience and against the background of development planning, the relation between government-sponsored housing and planning in Ghana is evaluated. It is discovered that mainly because the State Housing Corporation which builds most public projects operates without a guiding program related to other development programs, its activities are frequently in conflict with planning in an adverse manner. Again, for lack of programing, integrated decisions on housing for local, regional, or national purposes, are out of the question as far as the Corporation is concerned. An examination of the existing practical program of planning for Ghana reveals the prospect for effective integration of housing programs with development planning. It is concluded that the opportunity for utilizing government-sponsored housing for economic development will be more available, if the newly-created Housing Division and other relevant agencies are involved more in the planning process.

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