A rendering of a government housing project gone wrong in Iran in early 2010s.

Promise To Build Millions Of Homes Unfulfilled As Iran’s Economy Worsens

Wednesday, 05/04/2022

Economic hardship in Iran has worsened and people's priority is to stay alive, reported a local website adding that government ministers have lost credibility.

According to a report by Zeynab Ghobesyshavi of Roiuydad24 news website few remember that Rostam Ghasemi is Iran's urban development minister and that he was the man who was supposed to implement President Ebrahim Raisi's main promise: Building one million houses a year.

The report said the ministry has not built even one housing unit so far, nine months after Raisi and Ghasemi took office. Those who still remember Ghasemi, remember him with his gaffes and blunders. Ghasemi presented his plans for the oil ministry rather than the ministry of housing when his credentials were being reviewed at the Iranian Parliament (Majles) last August.

However, after some time, Ghasemi explained that he is not supposed to build one million houses every year. He further explained that it takes a year and a half to build a million housing units. He promised to make preparation for building two million houses. What was more important to the press was the fact that he halved the number of homes planned to be built during the four years of Raisi's presidency.

Ghasemi is lucky, the website wrote, that Iranians are so preoccupied with making ends meet as prices of essential commodities including foodstuff have been rising daily, no one has bothered to ask any questions about his housing plans.

From the beginning when the proposal was made, many experts did not take it seriously, arguing that Iran would need nearly $15 billion a year to construct one million units, money it simply does not have amid economic crisis and sanctions.

Iran's Roads and Urban Development Minister Rostam Ghasemi

Economic expert and academic Albert Boghosian said in an interview with Rouydad24 that it is quite possible to build a million residential units every year but the poorer segment of the population who are supposed to be the main beneficiaries cannot afford to pay mortgage for new homes. He suggested that the government should confront “the Mafia” that contributes to the rising cost of housing rather than focusing only on building new homes.

He reminded those who chant the slogan of building a million homes every year that rebuilding just one building in downtown Tehran that was ruined in a major fire took several years.

Meanwhile, Baytollah Sattarian, another economic expert told the website: "We used to build some 300 to 400 thousand housing units every year, but most of them remained vacant. So, a more practical number would be making 100 thousand apartments a year.

Sattarian charged that government officials do not know Iran's housing market.

He also said the government ignores that a sum equal to the same amount of investment for building housing units should be provided also for buildings for educational, administrative, health and policing, and other purposes in every neighborhood. Where can the government provide the cost of such projects from? Sattarian asked.

He added that Iran needs double-digit economic growth to afford building millions of homes, and quipped, "In four months’ time, the first year of the Raisi administration will come to an end. With the current situation, I can promise that we would be standing at the same spot after the end of the four years."

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