Social housing and affordable housing are two different things. Affordable housing is targeted at the middle income group and not the economically weaker class, but buyers often decide to give affordable housing projects the miss because these are largely seen as catering to the lower income group.
Urban planners say that while its intentions are laudable, the government needs to research what consumers want in order to make affordable housing projects scalable. Apart from the preferred size to a buyer’s basic requirements the government needs to find out more about how much ownership housing is actually required versus rental housing. At present, most governments rely on census data that is collected once in a decade. More frequent sources of reliable data are needed.
Affordable housing is not just about the price tag, it’s also about creating more housing supply in the market. The demand-supply dynamics that apply to group housing complexes are applicable to affordable housing. In today’s economic scenario, there may not be many takers for this housing format as there is already an oversupply of housing in certain micro markets.
“Even if the government is controlling the price, the target audience is still the same. The spatial understanding of demand that gives an idea about how much stock should come up in an area is inadequate. Also, the government is not taking into account the rental housing market, all these policies are pushing only ownership housing,” says Mukta Naik, senior researcher at the Centre for Policy Research, India.
Practically a person may want to live close to his place of work and may want certain convenience factors such as transportation etc and all those may be absent in these areas. Therefore, he may want to rent rather than buy property as an investment. Gurgaon city has a substantial mobile population that would much rather want to rent a house than own it, she says.
Cities needs to analyse how much ownership housing they actually require.They also need to formulate housing policies on the basis of feedback at the ground level. Most governments at present rely on census data that is collected once in a decade. There need to be more frequent sources of reliable data, she adds.