SHARJAH // Widows and divorced women with families and decent housing for all residents will be among the priorities of a new housing department in the emirate.
The consultative council voted unanimously last week to set up the new organisation that will oversee the accommodation needs of nationals in the emirate and all local and federal housing projects.
"Today, we welcome the Department of Housing among the family of local departments of Sharjah," Dr Obaid Seif al Hajri, the speaker of the council, said.
The organisation will work with other departments to identify public housing in need of renovation or demolition. Electricity and water shortages will also be addressed.
Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed, the Ruler of Sharjah, must approve any draft laws and policies regarding the department before they can be implemented.
Public housing issues in the emirate were previously handled by the Sharjah Department of Public Works, the municipality and the Sharjah Directorate of Town Planning and Surveying.
Emiratis in need of public housing had to submit their supporting documents to federal authorities. Once reviewed, the Government allocated dwellings according to their list of priorities and the number of available homes.
Those who received assistance would have their names published in local Arabic papers and printed on notice boards, while the rest would go on a waiting list.
The process will change under the new department and applications will be handled at a local level as will the rulings on who is awarded housing.
Meanwhile, in Ajman, authorities announced the completion of 167 villas that will be distributed to needy nationals early next month, according to Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid al Nuaimi, the chairman of Ajman Municipality.
He said that among these completed houses were 60 villas donated by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. A further 45 villas were donated by Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid, Ruler of Ajman, and 62 villas were constructed by the Humaid bin Rashid al Nuaimi Foundation.
Among the nationals who have submitted their applications for public housing, priority will be given to widows, divorcees, single women and poor families.
This year, the Zayed Housing Programme plans to build another 400 villas in Al Helio area for nationals in need.