Policy Approaches to Affordable Housing in Urban India


In the past decade particularly, the provision of adequate, affordable, and viable housing has become a central focus of national and state policy. Yet both the object of policy instruments—what is ‘affordable housing’ and for whom—and the modes to reach it remain deeply contested.

This paper addresses this problem space. It first defines the boundaries of what should be considered ‘affordable housing’. It then addresses policy questions through responses to a set of ten ‘dynamics’ that, the paper argues, are particularly relevant to thinking about affordable housing in Indian cities. These dynamics are almost common-sense utterances that are the first responses within any discussion on affordable housing, for example, ‘there is no land’, or ‘communities can participate, but not lead, in the delivery of their own housing’.

Through the discussions within each dynamic, the paper builds and argues for a particular approach to catching up with urban India’s housing shortage: a focus on upgrading existing, affordable but inadequate and tenurially insecure housing alongside provisions and new housing for urban residents to come.