Tuesday, July 10, 2018

India's Homeless

Tens of thousands of low-cost homes are lying empty across India even as officials race to meet a deadline to provide housing for everyone by 2022. It aims to build 20 million urban housing units and 30 million rural homes.

About 164,000 low-cost homes built under previous schemes are vacant, according to a housing ministry official.

"A significant number of them are in areas which lack the necessary support infrastructure - most importantly transport," said Anuj Puri, chairman of Anarock Property Consultants. "One way to ensure these homes are occupied is to rapidly deploy the support infrastructure in these areas. These homes will deteriorate if they lie unoccupied much longer," he said.

The programme offers subsidised loans, bypasses homeless people who cannot afford the mortgage payments.

"Those who really need these homes cannot afford them, and those who can afford them don't want them," said Harsh Mander, Director of the Centre for Equity Studies."So the programme doesn't serve its purpose..." he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

A quarter of India's urban population lives in informal housing including slums. That number is set to rise as thousands of people leave their villages every day to seek better prospects in cities.

An affordable home is typically about 250 square feet (23 square metres) in size, and can cost up to 1.2 million rupees ($17,500). It is usually located in the outskirts of the city where land is cheaper. Freeing up surplus land owned by government agencies for affordable housing can also help. Earlier this year, India's top court said authorities should consider converting empty government properties in the cities into homeless shelters. Thousands of homeless people in the Philippines have moved into empty government housing.

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