Rising housing need

If left unaddressed, paralysing effects on social cohesion and economic growth are unavoidable

Jammu & Kashmir is a place where migration of people has been rampant and has been taking place through two main routes. One, people (the state subjects) moved out of state and this kind of migration got triggered when in early 1990 a section of people left their home place to escape wrath of armed turmoil and settled outside the state. Two, when the people within the state started migrating to other zones within the state and this kind of migration too having its root in the armed turmoil continuing since 1990. Currently, this kind of migration still continues owing its basis both to the unending atrocities driven by the severe conflict situation and the socio-economic issues confronting  the populations.  It’s this population segment which has suffered the most for lack of proper and sufficient access to the basic necessities of life. 

In other words, Jammu & Kashmir is a fast urbanizing state, leaving it only with plenty of developmental challenges. However, most of all, it is housing challenge which is acute in nature as the migrated lot struggles in urban areas to own a dwelling. Most of the migrated population is the work force that belongs to economically weaker sections (EWS), low income group (LIG) and middle income group (MIG). These segments of the society don’t have the capital or enough resources to afford a house or dwelling of their own. They are forced to live in rented accommodation or take shelter in informal settlements. This situation never allows them to grow economically and overall hampers poverty reduction efforts.

Precisely, whatever the kind of migration taking place in the state, housing has remained the unfulfilled basic need for most of them to settle peacefully. Having a house to live in does not only mean a permanent shelter, but it envisages a sense of security to a person that he/she has a roof to himself/herself. Undoubtedly, home is a place where one lives, grows, nourishes and builds family and dreams.

This is not the story of migrants alone. Otherwise also, home is a basic necessity for everyone. Middle income groups, low income groups and economically weaker sections of the society, which are growing in size, are struggling to have their own house. This is despite the fact that an affordable housing scheme,  ‘Prime Minister Awas Yojana’ (PMAY), rolled out by the Government of India is in place for this kind of mixed population segment. Notably, PMAY guarantees affordable housing with and targets to develop 2 crore houses in the country by 2022. The main focus of this Yojana is to provide homes to people according to their financial capabilities. 

The ‘anchor scheme’, loaded with subsidy has been tailored to make direct intervention for creation of affordable houses in urban areas. The scheme pursues objectives like: to construct affordable Pucca Houses with water facility, toilet facility, 24X7 electricity supply and access. The scheme further envisages a target of two crore houses for the urban poor to be constructed by 2022—at the rate of 30 lakh houses per year.

But, most housing financing initiatives carried out by governments and banks often end up benefiting the high/middle income segment. Administrative procedures, terms and conditions set up by the government and banking institutions exclude the poor due to their low affordability levels. 

There is need to relax norms of availing the housing loan so that the scheme becomes viable, compatible and affordable for the urban poor. We have to understand that any attempt to improve housing quality goes concurrently with improvement of income level and with economic development. The extensive implementation of this scheme will not only benefit the poor, but will also provide an impetus to the economy by its tremendous multiplier effect—in terms of providing boost to other industries and generating employment. In fact, it would go a long way in mitigating the housing shortage for poorer strata of our society in our urban areas.

Precisely, at the moment, affordable housing is an issue as access to subsidized financing is not hassle free and discourages the target segment. If left unaddressed, paralysing effects on social cohesion and economic growth are unavoidable.

(The views are of the author & not the institution he works for)