This study looks at an important, but often neglected, aspect of socioeconomic activity. The need to have a shelter of one’s own is a fundamental right, and this study analyzes the important issues surrounding it.
Writing in 1971, Dr. Anwar Iqbal Qureshi – one of Pakistan’s prolific economists, had this to say about urban housing situation in the country: “The housing backlog in urban areas has increased progressively; from a shortage of 600,000 dwelling units in 1960 to a shortage of approximately 1-1.5 million units by 1970.” It meant that each year, there was a shortfall of around 50,000 housing units. In 2014, writes our scholar Shahid Mehmood in this paper, the gap between demand and supply has resulted in a backlog of around 9 million housing units. Of this the urban shortfall is 3 to 3.5 million units, almost all of which is in the segment of low-income households. The annual backlog is an estimated 300,000 houses.
In Pakistan’s past, two political governments had announced low-income housing programs. The PPP regime promised one million low-cost housing units while the PML (N) Govt announced half million low-cost housing units. While the PPP Government did not move beyond making the announcement, the PML (N) Government has so far taken some practical and tangible steps toward achieving this goal. The five Working Groups, set up under overall leadership of Finance Minister, had prepared reports detailing situation analysis, policy guidelines and the road map to move forward. The book also discusses the role of the company “Apna Ghar”, set up in the Public sector to deliver Low-Income Housing. Although it is functional, however, any delivery on ground is yet to be seen.
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