Jordan’s National Housing Initiative: The Economics Of A Decent Living

There has been a tremendous move since 2005, for the government to build public housing for the homeless and the less fortunate, under the directives of HM King Abdullah. The fruition of those directives are only now beginning to emerge as some of the projects are in the processes of being finished. The first phase of the 1,400 homes being built in Karak and Maan has already finished, with 600 homes being currently distributed free of charge. Meanwhile, 70% of construction on housing projects in Jerash has already completed, with facilities like a youth center, college and a road leading to tourism sites, to follow.

Last week, the Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDC) distributed about 100,000 forms (at 1JD each) for low-income citizens wanting to receive such housing under the mega project: the National Housing Initiative (known as “A Decent Home For A Decent Living” campaign), which will see over 120,000 houses built across Jordan, with 20,500 beginning construction this year and 20,000 each year starting in 2009.

Eligibility is basically, someone over 18 who does not own a house and has a monthly salary less than 1,000JD, which is about 97% of the country (if you think about it). Under this mega project, the new homeowners won’t have to provide a down payment and the monthly installment will not exceed one-third of a beneficiary’s salary. The initiative, a Royal Makruma (which means it comes from the treasury, which means it comes from taxes), is likely to cost $7 billion.

Even Palestinian refugees living in the camps (and carrying a Jordanian passport), are eligible. The applications ran out within 24 hours and ended up selling for 15JDs on the black market.

When it comes to housing, it is a tough time in Jordan.

Prices for apartments and homes, whether buying or renting, have gone through the roof. Even building materials for homes have increased dramatically, with a recent cut off of Egyptian cement to likely slow down the market for a while.

So these initiatives couldn’t have come at a better time for many, many, many Jordanians. Even under the projects that do require monthly payments, beneficiaries will end up paying a lot less for a new home than what they pay on rent in an old, fungi-ridden home. And with the tenants law coming into effect in a matter of months, rent prices are likely to reach new heights as well.

While the initiatives are pretty great in my opinion, there is, once again, the question of sustainability. What I mean by that, in this context, is based on wondering what happens after these people live in more suitable homes? Will there be more employment opportunities?

The way I see it, without a battle against unemployment, the battle for a decent living is pretty futile. These people, and their new communities, need to be sustained and that’s something that should be kept in mind. You can have a “Decent Home”, but a “Decent Living” takes a lot more than just a new house.

If the experiences of first world nations who have gone down this road before, has taught us anything, it’s that if both battles are not fought in tandem, then people will be right back where they started from, and we’ll see how quickly these housing projects turn into ghetto-like neighborhoods.

(but let’s hope that doesn’t happen)


  • It seems like it would be more sustainable for the government to build some nice apartment buildings for people to live in, since that should cost the government less per unit and they would then be able to deliver water, gas, and electricity more efficiently. With lower costs, one hopes, they would be able to build more of them.

  • Thanks NAS for writing about this project. I was amazed when I read about it in the paper about a year ago. And now it’s real. Definitely something that’s much needed. It’s great that the government has taken such a large initiative. I hope somehow this can mean a new beginning for some people and I hope that somehow employment picks up. I really don’t know how people at that level of poverty are coping with the inflation.

  • One more thing naseem, I think that the seven billion dollar figure includes the land(Which I may assume is what they refer to as makroma). So you give the land for free, and then see how much its worth and you get an inflated figure such as the one we have now. But before I make any judgments we need to see how the plan will work? Who is paying what? Who is going to pay for building the houses and on what basis are they investing in such initiative? What about the costs of schools, security, fire departments? Are those people going to pay taxes on their new houses (dareebet mosaqafat)? How much will it cost to maintainn those new cities and who will pay for it?What about the management of the mortgages? What if someone got fired and couldn’t pay? Will they be evicted or the house will become a makromeh? What about the money they paid through the years? will it be considered rent? Can we trust all people?

    Oh god, I can go on for 2 straight days!

    But I will leave it there..Oh before I forget, who is going to ensure that safety standards are being met?

  • Mohannad, I think the land remains owned by the government.

    Also, according to the Jordan Times report, tenants can’t sell the units or lease them, which I think means it ends up being closer to rent than owning.

  • Jordanian, the best part of this project is not allowing tenants (owners) to sell or lease since this will make it a business and not a housing project for the less privilaged.

  • Batir,
    I am curious, do you know any of the details of the plan? Who is the executing company? And what are the future plans for those communities? Does the figure include the lands worth? Many questions need to be answered before we can jump on the bandwagon of praising the project. Is the saudi king involved? How much aid will he give?

  • It’s agood intention I suppose.. this has been done in UK for the asylums and refugees.. and in UK they ar enot paying anything, not even the rent.. but ofcourse however the maintenance of houses and the surrounding area is supported by the UK govmnt.

    As usual these refugees are mostly muslims, and sometimes they misused this benefit by renting it to other ppl.. sometimes they let ppl rent with them or they totally let the whole house.

    The drawback is that, people will feel more lazy to find a good job.. or they just continue becoming jobless… this will create problems between couples.. as the husband will not carry the responsibility. The situation here in UK is, each of the head in a refugee family will get some pocket money from the govmnt. And this money will be given to the head of the family (the husband). This husband will then spend only lil bit for food, and save the rest of the money for his own leisure (goin to coffe shop with friends, buy expensive soccer shoes, etc..), and more ironic is, getting a second wife.

    I hope this idea will not worsen the society…

  • Mohannad, the companies are not still known as a call for bids will be issued. Of course you can expect the big cats to win such tenders when they are givin inside information about the “proper” price to submit. The total figure will include the cost of land (estimated cost) as an in-kind contribution from the government. The housing complex should include all the necessary services including open spaces and “harmony” in population to make sure that the community is not “an isolated island” from its surroundings. The King Fahd initiative will cover the housing project in Zarqa which is almost 35% of the total magnitude of the national project. It is a fantastic idea, but as usual be sure that the corrupted elite will try to siphon money to their own pockets.

  • Jordanian, the best part of this project is not allowing tenants (owners) to sell or lease since this will make it a business and not a housing project for the less privilaged.

    I agree, but I just wanted to make the point that this is not the government giving houses away. It’s just the government helping put a decent roof over people’s heads for an affordable monthly cost.

    I wonder though if there are stipulations for if a family decides to purchase the unit in the future if it can afford to. I think it might be a good idea. It’s better to help people own a home than to simply help them rent one. In that case, would the past payments the family made before it decided to purchase the unit (or another unit for that matter) count towards the purchase? I think it would be fair for them to count in some way.

  • Query:

    Will I be able to survive with 3000JD salary a month? And what about the average cost of living for a foreigner.. are there any additional taxes levied on foreigners?

  • The target portion for the housing unit’s project is a level of people, who are in a real need for a house to live in,

    Where were the persons who comments negatively discussing and trying to create disadvantages of this project when the poor Jordanians were homeless? In addition, what have they done for them?

    Many thanks and appreciations to his Majesty King Abdulla our king of Jordan who proved to the world that he cares about his people’s smallest needs and how to solve there problems.

    Jordan is a small country with big dreams while big dreams start with small steps.

    One behalf of my self and all clean Jordanians, we are ready any moment to spend our lives for Jordan and our king.

Your Two Piasters: