Berlin, May 2015
(Incremental means small change in particular way, but affect strategically)
Slums are happening everywhere. The social housing program that usually parts poverty reduction umbrella has been running to preventing the need for living in the slums. Hence, the question comes up of how does city provide the new better housing for them? How does the city define affordability for poor household?
Starting from efficient layouts and design
The street layout, lot shape, and house design are the critical cost determinants to developing a social human settlement. Hence, the upgrading of slums or new social housing strategies should apply efficient layouts and low-cost construction to make the houses more affordable for poor people.
Slums are not always related to poverty, some of them can upgrade their living quality, but most of the slum-dwellers are categorized as being lower middle class or poorer. Some of them have decent housing construction, but the others struggle in shacks and in core housing. The encroachment on a small space to expand a house occurred when the particular household gained better income. Individually, it aims to get better living space by optimizing space in the high-density circumstances. However, inevitably, they have to negotiate among themselves to shape a new layout since the common area also needs to be spared.
The common evidence shows that the organic pattern of the informal settlement is usually inefficient. It is logical since they merely optimize space resources at the individual level, but it is expensive for infrastructure maintenance on the communal level. On the other hand, compared with the grid and planned pattern of formal settlement, it seems obvious that it is more efficient to maintain.
The slum upgrading or new social housing strategies should consider efficient layout and low-cost construction to make the house more affordable for poor people. The layout should be able to accommodate the maximum housing unit and minimum infrastructure quantity, but still accommodate social amenities.
Many global governments tend to upgrade the slums to prevent the need to live in the slums. They try to change squatter housing markets and slums housing markets to extreme formal housing markets that are expensive and rigorous. However, that approach is expensive, and usually they have budget constraints.
The government needs to consider how much they could afford the development cost and how much the poor can afford the house, whether it would be in situ upgrading or replacement to the urban periphery. Even though the urban expansion seems to be cheaper and more logical, the government still needs to consider the differences in transport costs and negative externalities such as time and emission. This needs to be followed by the continuous development of public transit and new infrastructure in order to make the city more inclusive.
Housing is considerably seen as a verb, not just merely a noun. It means the housing unit could have a continuous process to extend as consequences of better wealth and higher needs of the owner. The expandable core housing strategies has produced decent housing since 1970s in many parts of the world. A case of Khuda Ki Basti, Pakistan showed a striking example on how the temporary shelter slowly expanded to a decent house. The NGO that called Saiban started technical assistance in 1979 by involving the community in planning, designing, constructing, and financing to assist communities expand their housing. As a result, in 2009, the Khuda Ki Basti settlement had more efficient infrastructure supply, less violence, and more facilities by comparison to an informal settlement in Pakistan.
Core housing strategies applies three types of starter approaches, i.e., providing lots, core standard housing, and small expandable house. Technically, there is an inverse relation of a starter-core option between family and government costs. When the government has less capacity, then it should be started from the lots rather than a multi-story house, or a small expandable house that needs more effort to develop.
The government also needed to consider the target group and their expandable capacity before decide which approach to use. The less built house could be useful for poor households capable of gaining more capital for expanding their houses. On the other hand, with the steadier core housing, it would be less flexible to develop it for those types of families. However, it is a little bit tricky on the ultra-poor families in lots. Obviously, they have less capacity to expand the lots, and probably would be trapped in minimum-built houses for a long time.
Finance Social Housing, and Determine Affordability
Pro poor housing finance should flexible and able to minimize household vulnerability. The finance scheme should consider the payment capacity of the household. Developed countries expert tend to use 30% of income as poor family payment capacity. Nevertheless, in fact, the poor family could be able to pay only 15% of their revenues since usually their money will be spent first on food, and probably transport. Hence, the traditional mortgage delivery would be too hard to achieve for them.
Microfinance is promoted globally to filling financing gap in pro-poor housing. It adjusts the target group payment capacity and usually uses flat interest amortization, in order that poor people could understand it. CODI in Thailand had practiced a collective fund that used credit group, and use the local figure to collect the payment. They applied communal rate and spared 7% for an adminstrative fee. As a result, this approach could reduced the rate that made it more affordable, more flexible for the community. A cement company in Mexico that called CEMEX applied pre scheduled payment for poor people before they give the cement to them. This approach is suitable for certain people who were not bankable, but attempt to afford material to expand their home. This approach could give them opportunitiy to proving their abillity before hand, and adapted their payment capacity.
source: Matt Nohn
In addition, a proper participation will be necessary to understand the housing need, share the project resource and risk with the community. Post-tsunami reconstruction that tremendously destroyed an entire city in Aceh Indonesia used community mapping to get accurate information about previous landowner whether they were still live or not. In Ethiopia, the government cooperated with local people to do self -collective construction. Local people were invited to taking part as a construction worker, and supply material that indirectly had generated local economy through seed funding.
The decision to survive and live in an informal settlement is influenced by dynamic economy reason and the political reason behind. The slum dwellers has a different scale cost benefit, and limited payment capacity. Therefore, promoting efficient lay out, core housing, and microfinance through participatory approach can reduce their need to living in the slums.
Achmad Faris Saffan Sunarya