Housing the Poor

4 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2017

See all articles by Siddharth Agarwal

Siddharth Agarwal

Urban Health Resource Centre; Dept. of International Health, JHBSPH

Date Written: September 18, 2007


In 2008, for the first time in the human history, more people will begin to live in cities than in villages. In India the urban population is expected to become 576 million in 2030 from the current 328 million.

With rapid urbanization, one big challenge facing urban planners and governments today is providing affordable housing to the city dwellers especially the poor. Housing is integral to the well-being of a family. Poor housing and a poor general environment (the social and physical characteristics of the surrounding area) has been linked with increased levels of respiratory infections and water and food borne diseases, accidents, psychological problems and even increased mortality.

However, over a billion people around the world live in appalling conditions of urban slums lacking the benefits of adequate housing. In India alone, about 100 million persons live in slums and slum like conditions without adequate basic facilities such as piped water, sanitation, school, health etc. These numbers are expected to touch 200 million by 2020.

On most of the habitat forums, the catch word these days is making cities “slum free". However, it is important to recount that the past efforts particularly those involving surgical removal and transplantation of slums to the outskirts of the city have often failed in many instances. When dealing with such a large number of disadvantaged human beings, it is imperative to adopt sensitive and holistic strategies that can improve all aspects of lives of slum dwellers such as education, health, livelihood etc.

Provisions for institutional housing finance to the urban poor also need to be strengthened. Though, finance institutions like HUDCO earmark more than 50% of its housing portfolio funds for the urban poor and make special provisions such as lower interest rates, up to 90% of loan component in the unit cost and longer repayment period. However, housing loan finance still remains a distant dream for most of the urban poor for reasons such as affordability and lack of information.

There is a need to generate demand among the urban poor by informing them through advertising and other means of communication.

Government bodies should seek support from NGOs and other civil society organizations in planning houses for the poor in terms of design and facilities. They can ensure the involvement of the urban poor in housing and resettlement efforts so that the plan is developed by the people themselves who have to be settled and relocated.

Finally, it is also important to look for new methods of land use planning and management factoring in the population growth projections. We can nurture more middle level cities to offload mega cities to some extent.

Keywords: Urban poor; slums; housing; India; Government; Non-government organisations; women

JEL Classification: I00, I10, I3, I31, I39, R00, R14, R2, R21, R28, R31, R38, R52, Z13

Suggested Citation

Agarwal, Siddharth, Housing the Poor (September 18, 2007). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2995601 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2995601

Siddharth Agarwal (Contact Author)

Urban Health Resource Centre ( email )

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New Delhi, Delhi 110029
911126199771 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://uhrc.in/name-CmodsDownload.html

Dept. of International Health, JHBSPH ( email )

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Baltimore, MD 21205
United States

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