Preventing Slums: Is Social Affordable Housing a Solution?

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Small huts, dirty roads, chaos, slums and too many people everywhere – India is suffering under an increasing population growth. With nearly 18% of the world’s population, India has to face health problems, massive social inequalities and a strong demand for housing. So far the historic caste system prevents people from complaining about the circumstances, and there are only some few entrepreneurs who have achieved a luxury lifestyle with villas and modern brands.

Apart from that, most of the population lives in poverty and is in need of proper accommodation. One of the solutions could be social affordable housing.

With social affordable housing, prefabricated buildings are assembled in factories into manageable pieces before they are transported to the building site. Among its advantages over individual homes are quick construction, better foundations, design flexibility, quality control and affordability for the owners.

Most of India's population lives in poverty and is in need of proper accommodation. Picture: Dharavi Slum in Mumbai

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Most of India's population lives in poverty and is in need of proper accommodation. Picture: Dharavi Slum in Mumbai

Due to the speed of building, the concept is currently witnessing a huge demand, said Amber Malhotra, Managing Principal of Sam Circle Venture, an Indian company currently investing in social affordable housing. This could impact the entire country: “Manufactured homes is a huge opportunity to create a social and economic impact on Indian economy”, said Malhotra.

However, affordable housing still requires a down payment by owners. While mortgage schemes exist, most poor people cannot afford this initial payment. In the end, this solution is targeting low-income employees rather than the people who are even more in a need of a proper accommodation.

There are some charities and social businesses that provide social affordable housing as grants. But these cases are rather rare and would not be a general method to tackle the enormous number of people who are desperate for housing. Slums are still developing quickly and there is no feasible alternative.

While social affordable housing represents a step in the right direction and helps to save resources in a more sustainable way than building individual houses would – it still cannot handle the massive population growth in India. Therefore we still need refreshing ideas and approaches.

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