Monthly payment for TOKİ's low-income housing project exceeds minimum wage

The monthly installment for the Turkish Housing Authority (TOKİ) project for low-incomers in Istanbul exceeded the minimum wage after the updated payment plan. The project remains incomplete two years after the promised deadline to the rights holders' dismay. 

Duvar English

The Turkish Housing Authority’s (TOKİ) proposed project catered to low-income families in Istanbul did not fulfill its promises to future owners with regards to cost or delivery time.

The monthly installments outlined by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2019 corresponded to 44 percent of the minimum wage, but today the same apartment costs more than 1.5 times the minimum wage. Rights holders complained about the unexpected change in the payment plan. 

President Erdoğan also assured potential buyers in 2019 that the project would be completed in one or one-and-a-half years. Four years later, construction for the housing complex has recently started, the daily Evrensel reported on Dec. 8. 

The TOKİ project was planned in the Tuzla district in Istanbul as part of the construction giant’s “100,000 new social housing units every year” campaign and was announced on 12 December 2019 by President Erdoğan. 

The initial announcement in 2019 promoted the apartments to low-income families with their flexible payment schedules. The apartment payments began with 240 monthly installments of 894 Turkish Lira (150 dollars in 2019), with a 10 percent down payment. 

The newly announced updated payment plan upset the rights holders who committed to the apartments in the previous years. The new plan decreases the installments to 180 months and increases the monthly payment to between 13 to 18,000 TL (450-620 dollars). 

TOKİ also announced that the yearly payment would increase at the same rate as the raises given to public servants. This could mean the apartments tripling in cost over a few years. 

One rights holder spoke of the government officials’ promises about the housing project and said that the previous Environment, Urbanism, and Climate Change Minister Murat Kurum had assured them the cost increase caused by the delay would not reflect onto the citizens. 

“The President had said the apartments would be delivered in a year. It is now four years later, and construction has barely begun,” complained a buyer. 

The rights-holder underscored the exorbitant down payments required in the new plan. “They say the project is for low-income families, but anyone who’s able to pay 400,000 TL (13,800 dollars) upfront is not low-income,” said a future buyer, and added that they believed the project only sought profit and did not have a social aspect.  

Many rights holders shared their complaints about the housing project through the social media platform “Şikayetvar.”

“We have been waiting for almost four years, and we are heavily wronged. Now, you remove the fixed interest option and sell these houses to prices unimaginable for us,” read one complaint.

Another comment read, “How am I supposed to pay the 17,500 TL installments as a low-incomer?”  

TOKİ has received enormous funding from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and has become a means of the government developing and in some cases gentrifying many parts of the country. 

Prospective buyers have to enter a lottery to gain rights to the projects in the early stages.