Ahmedabad: The Anant Centre for Sustainability has published today the first of a city series of investigative reports on ‘The Paradox of Vacant Houses in India’ that reveal the reasons why 7.5% of houses are lying vacant in India where 20 million people do not have homes, along with a proposal for solutions. The report focuses on Ahmedabad and is based on a yearlong survey of 498 residents across 50 societies in the city and interviews with several public and private sector stakeholders.
The report has revealed some surprising facts:
• Despite the housing shortage in Ahmedabad, more than 14% of homes – nearly 170,000 – lie vacant. This is not only a humanitarian problem but it is a massive waste of national resources.
• There are very few schemes that are privately built for the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) segment in Ahmedabad, such that this segment is largely reliant on government housing. However, nearly 20% of EWS government homes are vacant and a further 30% are rented.
• In the Lower Income Group (LIG) segment, majority of the homes are either vacant or rented. This seems to indicate that though the government has tried hard over the last few years to create housing stock for the EWS and LIG segment, nearly half or more of that stock might not have reached intended beneficiaries and is in the hand of investors.
• Government projects, especially in the eastern part of Ahmedabad, have very high vacancy compared to the western part of the city and to private developments elsewhere, though these government projects are substantially cheaper. This is because price appreciation in government projects is lower compared to private projects. Also, the projects in the western part of Ahmedabad show much greater appreciation then the eastern part.
Dhaval Monani, Director of Affordable Housing at the Anant Centre for Sustainability and lead author of the report mentions that, ‘In this report we have tried to come up with simple, actionable suggestions that are contextual both to address unsold homes and vacant homes that are not rented. A multi-pronged approach will be needed over the next few years if we are to address the problem of homelessness, unsuitable housing and slums.’
The findings in Ahmedabad are a reflection of a systemic problem across the country. The government that is the leading housing provider in the affordable housing segment needs to take a relook at its strategy and delivery mechanism of affordable houses. Further, if a framework could be created to occupy the vacant homes, we would reduce the approximately 50 crore slum households in India by 50%.
The report proposes a set of solutions ranging from rental policies, improving llocation, iinfrastructure, and design of affordable houses, to reducing social constraints in affordable housing development projects and offering financial solutions.
The founding Director of the Anant Centre for Sustainability and CEO Sustain Labs Paris, Dr. Miniya Chatterji said, “India faces one of the worst housing shortages in the world, yet nearly 25 crore of the total 330 crore houses lie vacant. Besides systemic reasons, the factors leading to this gross paradox are often rooted in local contexts. The team at the Anant Centre for Sustainability is investigating one city at a time, the reasons for vacant homes and solutions to close the housing gap for the EWS and LIG segments. We are releasing our findings for Ahmedabad today and the focus of our next report will be on Mumbai.”
The Anant Centre for Sustainability is a think-teach-do tank at Anant National University, that focuses on affordable housing, indigenous models of circular economy, and building sustainable education campuses in India. It publishes research reports and multimedia products, creates and teach relevant course work, and implement projects. Recently the Anant Centre for Sustainability set up at extremely affordable costs 9 COVID-19 recovery facilities in vacant buildings across 5 states in India. These facilities were equipped with affordable laminated cardboard furniture that were designed and manufactured by Anant National University. Further, the Anant Centre for Sustainability designed and manufactured oxygen response auto rickshaws and COVID-19 testing auto rickshaws at very affordable costs, which are being operated by 2 state governments in India.