Mumbai Local

Affordable housing a problem of housing poverty, not shortage

With just over a month remaining for the citizens of Mumbai to file suggestions and objections to the Revised Draft Development Plan 2034 (RDDP) released by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, Hamara Shehar Abhiyan, a people’s campaign to demand an inclusive and participatory development plan, on Wednesday held a consultation about aspects of affordable housing in the new plan.

The RDDP outlines a number of proposals for the creation of one million affordable housing units in the city. Hamara Shehar Abhiyan, which has been engaging with the development plan process for over 4 years, sought to reframe the problem of affordable housing not as a housing shortage but as housing poverty. Hussain Indorewala, Assistant Professor at the Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute for Architecture and Environmental studies and member of Hamara Shehar Abhiyan, pointed out that if one were to look at the problem numerically, there is actually no shortage of housing units. Over the next twenty years, the development plan budgets for an additional 8 lakh families who will come into Mumbai but this is offset, he said, by the fact that 4 lakh housing units now remain empty.

When we talk about housing shortage, the discussion moves to things like FSI and land prices when the discussion should be centred around the fact that people who need housing the most don’t get it,” he pointed out. Mr. Indorewala said that the focus on increasing FSI leads to a high-rise model of redevelopment as the only option and completely disregards existing social networks and livelihoods that people have in slums and other informal settlements. Over half of the city’s population currently lives in such settlements.

As part of their suggestions and objections, Hamara Shehar Abhiyan has suggested that building heights for lands occupied by slums should be capped to 15 metres. Development rights awarded as incentives to developers, it says, produce un-liveable homes for the poor. “1.5 FSI is sufficient to provide 7.5 sqm per capita for all slum dwellers in the city for living and working. High FSI only means that people with lower incomes get unliveable quarters and it makes the slum areas more dense,” Mr. Indorewala said.

Further, it was suggested that all land currently occupied by slums must be declared land reserved for public housing that self-built housing must be considered a legitimate housing option.

The suggestions add that redevelopment of slums based on monetisation of land must not be permitted. Self-development on slum land, after being reserved for public housing, must be encouraged.

In order to preserve livelihoods, it was suggested that rehabilitation units for slum dwellers must be in walk ups with the ground storey designed for commercial units, and small industrial workshops.

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Printable version | Apr 15, 2021 1:02:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/news/Affordable-housing-a-problem-of-housing-poverty-not-shortage/article14392623.ece

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