Urban Housing Adequacy Frameworks

Briefing papers on the framework for housing adequacy and how formal efforts are yet to meet adequacy criteria in India

1) A Framework for Housing Adequacy

This briefing paper was initially written by INHAF as a 10-page contribution from India towards an Asia Regional Report put together by the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights (ACHR) on the role of sub-national Governments in the provision of adequate housing and in particular, the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal 11.1 (to ‘ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services, and upgrade slums’).  The Asia paper was commissioned by the United Cities and Local Government (UCLG), a worldwide network of 1000 cities and 175 local and regional governments across 95 countries, and went on to inform the UCLG report on ‘Rethinking Housing Policies’ (2019).

In 2020, INHAF expanded on the original 10-page country brief and included other aspects of the housing framework within which ‘adequate’ housing is produced: housing challenges for cities, governance and housing, changing view towards housing, the role of local governments in delivery and opportunities for co-production.

2) De-constructing the Parameters of Housing Adequacy

In 2012, the Technical Group Report on Urban Housing Shortage in India put the figure at 18.78 million units, consisting of 3 forms of adequacy: congestion (80%), obsolescence (12%), non-serviceable houses (5%) and homelessness (3%). This is an incomplete understanding because among other things, it does not talk about security of tenure nor about the vast stock of ‘formal’ housing that have transformed into vertical slums. A broader set of conditions for assessing housing adequacy was recognised in the 1948 Universal declaration of human rights and in the 1966 International covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. These were further ratified during the Habitat III conference in 2016. 

INHAF used these parameters of housing ‘adequacy’ to argue that formal solutions for the urban poor (through national schemes implemented in the last decade) are still inadequate and instigators of another kind of crisis. This is not an argument against formal housing – what was found through these parameters – is what is still lacking in formal solutions, the potential that slum settlements have and what needs to improve as we dream of ‘housing for all’.