All BDD chawls have a typical design. The ground plus three-storey structures have two entrances at the opposite ends, while the main one is located in the middle.
The 140 to 160-sq-ft houses have no kitchens, but all rooms have cross ventilation. The three-metre-wide common passage acts as a community space as well as utility area, where residents put their shoe racks and extra furniture.
It is also used by many to sleep and gather for socialising.
In addition to the regular tenants, most of whom are Maharashtrian and hail from the weaker economic strata, 4,000 tenements have been allotted as quarters to civic and police staff, along with 177 used as classrooms.
One BDD chawl building at Worli is used as a hospital. It has 40 beds and a full-fledged operation theatre, a maternity ward and also an out patients department. A BDD chawl building at Lower Parel has been turned into a medical centre housing 100 patients who have come to Mumbai for cancer treatment. Their relatives generally stay there too.
Another building at Worli is used as a training centre for blind people.