Factors influencing access to housing finance by low income women in Kenya
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Shelter is a basic need of women and men alike; their participation in its development is both desirable and necessary. Yet, the organizational, financial and labour resources women bring into housing development have not been accorded commensurate recognition and consideration. Their contribution to the sustenance and reproduction of labour are often overlooked. Furthermore, their participation in the production of the country's goods and goods and services has not been appreciated. The main objective of the study was to understand why low income women face difficulties in accessing housing finance. The study focused on selected housing cooperatives based in Naivasha and Athi River. It also focused on institutions that provide financial services and or housing micro finance based in Nairobi. The target population comprised twelve primary housing cooperatives with a total of 167 members, 5 NGO'S dealing with housing micro finance and 2 commercial banks. The primary data was collected using closed and open ended questionnaires and was analyzed by descriptive statistics. From the findings, financial services and products; regulatory frameworks; asset ownership; employment verses predictability of income; and demographic characteristics have a direct bearing on access to housing finance for low income women. Requirements by financial institutions such as collateral amongst others are a major impediment to accessing housing finance. The Regulatory framework affects the institutions more than the beneficiaries especially those regulated by the Central Bank of Kenya. The study concluded that access to housing finance for the low income remains a major challenge. Housing micro finance is the way to go to facilitate the low income to access finance for housing development. Financing mechanisms need to be able to address not just small scale one off projects but the longer term scaling of solutions that are both acceptable and affordable within the context of developing countries realities.