22 Jan : The year 2010 may be declared as the year for ‘affordable housing’. This was recommended in the National Conference of Ministers of Housing, Urban Development and Municipal Administration held in New Delhi on 20th January 2009. The other recommendations of the conference are :-
1. State specific policy focusing on Affordable Housing with supporting action plans for augmenting supply of land at affordable prices should be developed.
2. States to draw up the road map and a vision for ‘Slum Free City’.
3. Banks to make reservation of at least 1% of their priority sector lending funds for EWS housing
4. Review of existing legal and regulatory framework for acquiring/bringing-in additional lands into the market. Secure land tenure may be extended to families living in slums. Further, Vertical/multi-storeyed construction for in-situ slum re-developments be adopted by persuading the community to avoid long distance relocation
5. Modify state enactments and city level master plans for upward revision of FAR/FSI to accommodate land allocation for EWS and LIG. The investment in infrastructure should be commensurate with the revision of FAR and FSI.
6. Land at institutional rates to be made available for low income housing to cooperative housing societies and employee Welfare organizations to those with a good track record.
7. Private developers ready to undertake construction of affordable housing in partnership or in a JV with the state may be involved.
8. Institutional mechanisms to compile regularly data on housing starts and completions be established.
9. Steps may be taken to create a healthy rental market
10. Easy availability of housing finance at concessional rates
11. Strengthen and enlarge Housing Micro-finance
The Conference was inaugurated and chaired by Kumari Selja, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation. In her address Hon’ble Minister highlighted that growth of large cities is accompanied by an upsurge in urban poverty where in absence of basic services, secure tenure and formal employment opportunities, settlements of the poor become slums with health & environmental concerns. She mentioned that the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) is addressing the issue of facilitation of basic services for such settlement along with housing and the other scheme of Ministry, Interest Subsidy Scheme for Housing the Urban Poor (ISHUP) is likely to address the issue of availability of institutional finance to these people, who are generally not considered credit worthy by the Banks and Housing Finance Companies. She requested the State Governments supplement the efforts of Union Government in creation of additional housing stock by increasing supply of serviced land and new houses by direct intervention through State Housing Boards, Development Authorities, Cooperative Sector etc. and also providing one time incentive in the form of relaxation of Floor Area Ratio (FAR) /Floor Space Index (FSI) norms through appropriate spatial (regulatory) incentives. This is also likely to lead to softening of land prices and induce downward trend in house prices.
The social housing programme carries a double benefit. Not only does it enable us to significantly improve the quality of life of the slum dwellers and the poor, housing construction provides an impetus to the economy by its tremendous multiplier effect. An increase in housing construction activity stimulates demand in about 20 related sectors of the manufacturing industry, and creates employment in the total economy that is almost eight times the direct employment generated in housing construction.
The National Urban Housing & Habitat Policy, 2007 (NUHHP) adopts the goal of Affordable Housing for All, and seeks to promote multiple schemes and private-public partnerships in order to achieve it. Between the JNNURM effort and state sector schemes in some states, it is estimated that about two million houses may be constructed for the economically weaker sections of the populace by the end of the 11th Plan. Given the housing shortage in the country, 98% of which is in the EWS & LIG segment, it is estimated that 26.53 million houses would be required by the end of the 11th Plan. It is thus clear that much greater effort and a much larger programme for housing construction is required.