KUWAIT: Living in spacious apartment buildings has been touted as a viable option for Kuwaiti citizens as the demand for housing continues to grow. While the option is virtually available for all citizens willing to live within the boundaries of an apartment, the decision is still governed by personal preferences as well as social status and financial capabilities. The 1993-established Public Authority for Housing Welfare (PAHW) is encouraging citizens to live in apartment buildings by displaying the many perks of a spacious apartment with facilities and services catering to the needs of each Kuwaiti family.

Recently, PAHW – which implements government-housing policies – prioritized requests for apartments in Jaber Al-Ahmad City within the 2019-20 budget and this included requests submitted until Dec 31 of last year. Requests for government apartments are on the rise, said PAWH spokesman Ibrahim Al-Nashi in a statement to KUNA. He added that requests for apartments were increasing, especially in Jaber Al-Ahmad City and northwest Sulaibikhat. For example, he indicated that in Jaber Al-Ahmad, there are 520 apartments, while around 610 citizens submitted housing requests.

The cost of a 400-sq-m apartment varies between KD 60,000 and 70,000 (about $198,000 and $230,000), with citizens paying back the government in monthly installments of KD 60 ($198), said Nashi. As PAHW is trying to sell the idea of spacious apartment buildings to citizens, reactions varies amongst Kuwaitis, with some preferring to wait their turn for a government house while others are seriously contemplating the idea.

Head of the youth voluntary team for housing projects quality Khaled Al-Otaibi claimed that Kuwaitis are not too eager to live in apartment buildings, citing the 1980s’ Sawaber apartment project as an example of failure to gain social acceptance. Privacy is a major obstacle to overcome with apartment buildings, said Otaibi, adding this would be the main concern for those trying to sell the solution to the masses.

Ahmad Al-Enezi seconded Otaibi, saying apartments are a fixed deal with no room for improvements construction-wise if residents decided that in the future. Most citizens have increasing needs, whether it is welcoming newborns or trying to expand the space for the sake of expanding, and apartments lack that no matter how good the idea is, he added. Enezi said that with the lack of outdoor spaces and probably noise from neighbors, he failed to see the advantages of apartment buildings.

Enezi’s thoughts are also shared by Bader Al-Nasser, who indicated that most citizens would rather wait for housing or land allocated by the government than live in an apartment building. The only way Nasser saw apartment buildings being successful is that if the government made such structures closer to the center of the city and residential areas and more private for families.

In contrast, Sumayya Al-Ali said apartment buildings are interesting for those unwilling to wait for years to acquire a house, noting that reasonable installment rates paid back to the government and short waiting period are better than high rents in private apartments. Ali added that apartment buildings are adequate to her familial needs at the moment, saying that she did not rule out the possibility of taking this option.

Hashem Al-Mane, also an advocate of apartment buildings, affirmed that the solution was realistic for citizens, saying that units cater to the specific needs of five to six individuals within a family. He also noted that each apartment was built to address the private needs for each family, adding that the idea itself was successful in his eyes. – KUNA