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India’s home rental programme for migrant workers needs more nuance and ambition

Aug 16, 2021 07:57 AM IST

The affordable housing rental complex (AHRC) scheme acknowledges the needs of mobile workers who spend short periods of time in the city and do not seek permanent housing. Applying what we know about migrant work and the development sector will help India to realise AHRC's potential.

All through 2020, migrant workers left major cities amid lockdowns to limit the spread of COVID-19. (Image: Reuters)

Home ownership, a roof over our heads to call our own, is not just a matter of economic security, but also a marker of stability and social status. This essential understanding has underpinned the unwavering commitment of the state to home ownership since the early years of the Indian republic.

From building refugee housing in the wake of Partition to setting up State Housing Boards in the '50s and '60s, to a push to growing the housing sector via the Housing and Urban Development Corporation and the National Housing Bank in the '80s, the state pushed to provide ownership housing to urban residents across income groups. Post liberalisation, the state receded further from the role of housing supply, and the policy focus shifted to mortgage financing, though modest amounts of public housing was constructed via urban renewal programmes.

Parallelly, the approach to urban slums changed from slum clearance to slum improvement, ‘sites and services’, and resettlement schemes. Since the 1990s, slum redevelopment projects that involved the private sector sought to provide tenure secure housing to slumdwellers. Except for employee-provided housing, home ownership has remained the bedrock of housing policy through the decades and continues to do so today, with the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) scheme racing to fulfil the government’s commitment towards Housing for All by 2022.

Recognising housing needs of mobile workers

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