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Challenges Of Inclusive Housing

By Author: Jill Clevenger
Total Articles: 38

Every day, countless families struggle to keep a decent roof over their heads. There are millions of low-income families, who live in overcrowded, unsafe spatchcock dwellings, crammed between dusty paths and open sewers with virtually no sanitation, environmental risk factors and lack of even the barest infrastructure. These are usually socially homogenous encampments where unskilled poor live among themselves, disconnected from others, making it harder for them to access mainstream economy.

The dwellers experience exclusion, discrimination and lack of hope to access adequate and affordable housing. They are under constant threat of being evicted without notice. A single eviction could destabilise multiple blocks, not to account for the block to which the family is begrudgingly relocated. Most of their possessions water containers and tents among others are periodically steamrolled by eviction agencies.

There is little more critical to a family's quality of life than a healthy and safe living space. However, this section of India's poor lives in inhuman conditions and is often under the threat of displacement, harassment and arrest. Over the last decade, India has substantially expanded its net of welfare policies, aimed at lifting millions from poverty. It seems that the time has come for making 'right to shelter' a reality. Priority for housing ought to be higher than education and health.

Challenges for India are daunting and homelessness has become a powerful monster. An estimated 65 million people, or 13.6 million households, are housed in urban slums, according to the 2011 Census. It also showed that an additional 1.8 million people are homeless. Recent estimates by the Ministry of Rural Development and Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs indicate a housing shortage of nearly three crore units in rural areas and 1.2 crore units in urban areas. The grim aspect of the housing scenario is that the number of homeless is huge despite the fact that its composition of urban population is much lower compared to other countries. According to the World Bank, urban population, as a proportion of the total population in 2015, stood at 86 per cent in Brazil, 56 per cent in China, 54 per cent in Indonesia, 79 per cent in Mexico, 82 per cent in South Korea and 31 per cent in India.

y the accepted definition of slum (minimum 60 households), more than 2,500 Indian cities have slums; overall, there are 33,500 slums and the total population stands at 65.5 million. About 90 per cent of the residents have electric power and 56 per cent have access to water. These figures pose a huge challenge for planners. Affordable housing has assumed great importance because it generates direct and indirect employment in the medium-term and sustained consumption in the long-term. A 2014 study by the National Council of Applied Economic Research indicated that every additional rupee of capital invested in the housing sector adds Rs 1.54 to the GDP and every Rs 1 lakh invested in residential housing creates 2.69 new jobs in the economy.

The lack of official land titles is a major impediment to the acquisition of housing finance. People do not have documentary proof of being owners of the land on which they live. Many low-income villagers have owned their land for generations. Landlessness and the lack of secure property rights are among those inequities that perpetuate poverty, hold back economic development and generate social tensions. Demographic shifts, combined with poor or non-existent land ownership policies, have spawned huge slums across the country.

Challenges of inclusive housing - The housing sector demands high-level creativity. Conventional bureaucratic approach and existing laws can merely scratch the problem. For more information, visit: https://www.dailypioneer.com/india/page/1

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