urban poor


Struggles of low-income households at the cusp of informal-formal housing finance

By and on October 26th 2021

This article attempts to capture the story of an informally employed low-income household who, with the help of informal financial agents, successfully navigated the informal-formal space of housing finance to buy the house of their choice. The article starts with contextualising the accessibility and affordability constraints for housing finance faced by low-income households. Following this, we discuss a case study of an informally employed home loan borrower, explaining the negotiations playing at the cusp of the informal-formal. Lastly, we deliberate upon the roles of lending institutions, specifically during the COVID-19 crisis and the financial recovery of the home loan industry.

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The economics of developing affordable rental housing complexes

By on September 7th 2021

As a response to the COVID-19 migrant crisis and in furtherance of the Government of India’s ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’ mission, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs announced the Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHC) programme under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana scheme to improve the living conditions of urban poor/migrant workers. Although the initiative is a novel step, it operational aspects demand more than what is being offered for enabling private/public agencies to leverage the opportunity and turn it into a grand scale programmatic intervention.  

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Housing is a welfare weapon: it can help people escape poverty

By on August 31st 2021

Governments have come up with several schemes to address the housing deficit for low-income households, including the construction and sale of public housing at subsidised prices, which are then allocated to applicants by lottery. This piece presents the findings of a recent study of 834 total winners and non-winners of such lotteries run by the Maharashtra Housing And Development Authority in Mumbai. The study finds large differences between winners and non-winners three to five years after the lotteries were held. It finds that the provision of this housing, as an asset, changed the lives of beneficiaries positively, and identifies the lack of involuntary displacement as a key component to this change.

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Addressing information asymmetries to enable housing coproduction: Q&A with Rohit Lahoti and Sayali Marawar

By on August 24th 2021

The role of access to information in empowering the poor is well-acknowledged in India and reinforced by the experience of the Right to Information Act, 2005. However, information asymmetries continue to hamper the ability of the poor to make informed decisions about their future. A new online resource seeks to address this gap in the context of housing. The IHR team speaks to the founders about their motivations, challenges and aspirations for this platform.

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(Im)mobility at the margins: low-income households’ experiences of peripheral resettlement in India and South Africa

By , , and on July 26th 2021

Drawing on a mixed-method comparative study of experiences of families moving to five peripheral settlements in Ahmedabad, Chennai and Johannesburg, the paper indicates two linked challenges to the social and economic mobility of the peripheralised urban poor: first, their immediate and individual ability to be mobile within the city and second, the longer-term social mobility of their households.

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Why are the struggles of India’s urban poor fragmented?

By on July 13th 2021

India witnesses a massive crisis in housing with 95.62% (2012) of this shortfall felt by economically weaker sections and low income groups. Yet we do not see these groups mobilising together to force the government to respond to their needs. In cities such as Mumbai where the majority of the population lives in poor housing, we still do not see a mass mobilisation or social movement to push the government into action. Why don’t the urban poor come together when social movements have proved effective in enabling change in policies? This piece answers this question, drawing from a longitudinal ethnography of struggles for rehabilitation housing in Bangalore.

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Land vs. housing: how effective are tenurial measures to house the urban poor?

By on June 16th 2021

Access to land in Indian cities is a major challenge for the urban poor due to the complexity of land tenure, scarcity of land, speculative land prices, and lack of political will. As a result, a majority of them are forced to live in informal settlements without having secure tenure, facing continuous threats of eviction and demolition, which puts them in an unending vicious cycle of poverty. Creation of new housing stock under different housing schemes has been the dominant strategy to address the housing shortage, but remains ineffectual on account of being a time consuming and capital intensive process. The other way to address the problem was to regularize and upgrade the existing housing stock occupied by poor groups. Over the years, state governments have introduced various tenurial measures to address this conundrum of housing and land. This article attempts a nuanced understanding of the effectiveness of these tenurial measures in augmenting and improving the urban poor housing scenario.

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Impact of resettlement in the Kathputli Colony transit camp

By and on May 4th 2021

Drawing on over a decade of research on the Kathputli Colony in Delhi, this two-part series focuses on the complex processes involved in the in-situ rehabilitation of squatter settlements. While the first part focused on the differentiated nature of the resettlement processes, this second piece focuses on the transit camp, examining the multidimensional impact on the residents who are endlessly awaiting their final rehabilitation.

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Saving Bastis

By and on November 3rd 2020

Why the Delhi government must not squander the chance to overturn an anti-poor housing policy

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Home ‘ownership’ is not enough: Documenting spatial variations in how slum households in India access basic amenities

By and on October 8th 2020

By examining access to a bundle of basic amenities – electricity, piped water and in-house latrines – by homeowners in slum (and non-slum) households and documenting how this varies across states and cities in India, the authors of this data-centric piece offer insights into how the quality of housing structures need to urgently be seen alongside access and quality of basic amenities to ensure improved quality of life in Indian cities. In a post-CoVID moment, these data points urge us to reflect on how inflexible land regulations and services delivery mechanisms have historically disadvantaged slum households in terms of public provision of, as well as private investment in, basic amenities.

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