AHMEDABAD: At a time when the government is increasingly focussed on the critical need to provide affordable urban housing, especially for lower-income residents in Gujarat, a study by Harvard University reveals that a majority of those who are allotted affordable houses never move in due to its location.
Recent research funded in part by Harvard University's Real Estate Academic Initiative on 110 single-storey row houses built by the Gujarat government based on an initiative by Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA), shows that nearly 40% of those who were allotted the houses decided not to move into those houses because of the remoteness of the location, which was built farther from the city centre than originally planned.
The research titled 'Isolation or Opportunity? Experimental Analysis of a Housing Program for Urban Slum Dwellers in India', was conducted by Sharon Barnhardt — a faculty at IIMAhmedabad, Erica Field — an associate professor in the Department of Economics at Duke University and Rohini Pande — faculty at Harvard University.
"Thirty-four per cent of Ahmedabad's population live below the national poverty line, partly because of the decline of the city's textile industry in the 1960s. The idea for the Ahmedabad housing lottery started with SEWA asking the local government to build a new housing cluster for bidi workers, and in 1987, launched a housing lottery to allocate 110 houses, built on vacant government land on Ahmedabad's periphery. The houses included official water and electricity connections and private toilets. The housing lottery was open to the poorest bidi rollers whose household income was less than 700 rupees per month. Out of 497 workers, who entered the lottery, 110 'winners' were randomly selected," says the study.
Decades after the houses were allotted; the researchers launched an investigation to find out how the opportunity to relocate from Ahmedabad's urban centre affects their ability to tap into new and old support systems for risk-sharing in their economic and social spheres.