On the surface, it does not seem like divorce would cause such a great impact on housing. However, when you think about it a little more closely you start to see how it is already affecting housing provision around the world. Divorce rates are rising alarmingly and with so many families being split up, it is only logical that more homes need to be provided and also smaller homes. For couples who “manage” to stay together for social or religious reasons, the two of them together are often beneficially greater than either one of them independently. While one of them may have health issues, the other may be strong enough to help with support and medication. In a sense, no matter what the faults or weaknesses, with a two person partnership it is far more likely that the two will be able to live independently in their one home for far longer than if it were just one of them. Once split up, each partner would require a great deal more support which would mean an increase in medical care and finances that could be quite significant and unavailable. It is sometimes pitiful when you visit an old uncle or aunt who used to be very vibrant and mobile back in their day and to see what has become of them now that they are alone living with a houseboy or housegirl or even a distant distant relative who has no real interest in their welfare other than pocketing the money that the kids who are spread far and wide, send home from time to time. This is a growing problem and in the next few years will reach epidemic proportions. In Nigeria we have not really noticed the impact on housing yet because the older generation still manages to live in their old family homes which are decaying around them with no one to maintain them. Of course immediately they die, the kids sell the property to the highest bidder. If this family home is on a large plot of land in Ikoyi, Victoria Island or Ikeja, you can bet that in an apartment block will be put up in its place
Younger divorced couples are now buying or renting homes and apartments on serviced estates where essential services like security and power are provided, apart from their personal care. In the next few years we may need to consider going the way of other developed countries and building retirement homes for the growing divorced aging population. Abroad the Governments have already taken notice of this increase in divorce rates and have invested in research into understanding the increase as well as preventing its continuation. Many are stating that the UK Government needs to start investing in saving marriages if it has any hopes of keeping its current enviable housing and care system manageable!
Whatever the cause of this increase in divorce, the ramifications are clear; the housing sector will be severely affected should this trend continue. That being said, although Nigeria is not a “welfare friendly” country, it may be wise for the Government to start to look into ways to help ease the growing problem of divorce and its future impact, otherwise there may not be enough resources to sustain the looming housing provision for as long as it will be needed. This growing problem is something that should taken up by media and overall society awareness, especially as our health care system already cannot support all the strains being created simple health demands, not to talk of increasing health issues. In the UK, the Government has tried to ease the pain of home ownership for all by starting “The Help to Buy Mortgage Scheme” which program allows people to buy homes at a much reduced interest rate of something like 3%. It comes in two different varieties. The first of these is the interest-free loan opportunity. The second allows the Government to function as the guarantor for a portion of the borrower’s debt. The mortgage guarantees provided by “Help To Buy” are open to first-time home buyers as well as home movers. The purpose of this part of the program is to help those buyers who do not have enough money to put down as a deposit on their home. If this is the only thing preventing the borrower, the “Help to Buy” program will help to raise enough money for the initial deposit. In Nigeria it is unfortunately a case of “everyman for himself and God for us all” with no Government intervention, unless steps can be taken NOW to redress what is already a growing problem. Even with the rate of construction by private developers, it will not be enough to meet the needs of what is coming ahead. As the say “to be forewarned, is to be forearmed”