City Priority 1: Affordable Housing

A few months ago, BJP scrapped through the Gujarat state elections. It means that unless something dramatic happens, Gujarat will have a BJP government in the state till 2022. It means that at that time, the state would have been under BJP rule for close to three decades!

There have been a lot of discussions and debates about what the ‘Gujarat Model’ is, has it been successful, should it and can it be replicated across the country. We will not get into those topics for now.

The main question that we will be exploring will be

“What does the BJP government need to prioritize in Ahmedabad for this term?”

We are going to focus on one priority at a time. The sequence of the priorities is chosen at random and do not indicate a preference within the priorities. 

City Priority 1: Affordable Housing

Ahmedabad has seen incredibly rapid urbanization and the city has expanded in all directions. Urbanization increases the population of the city really quickly and if the city does not have the capacity to provide housing to the rising population, it results in housing becoming un-affordable. The city’s expansion in size meant that there was always enough housing capacity to accommodate more people. Infact the supply of houses has far outpaced the demand.

Unfortunately, there has been a supply and demand mismatch. The supply is of houses which would fall under the premium category and the demand is for affordable houses. It is very difficult to find 1BHK and 2BHK houses in the city which were built in the last five to six years. The only ones that have come up are in the outskirts of the city and those are far away from the business hubs.

State government has noticed this problem and has started building affordable houses but it has not been able to match the pace of the demand. Also, there are also a lot of cases where these affordable houses are being snapped up by the upper middle class who buy this as a second home and then rent it out.

According to the Affordable Housing Survey, there is a demand for 9.78 Lakh affordable houses in Gujarat and Ahmedabad alone needs around 3.34 Lakh homes. They linked document also references all the schemes that the schemes that the government is leveraging to quicken the pace of providing these affordable houses. It also mentions the eligibility to apply for different affordable housing schemes.

All these schemes will have little long term impact if the business hubs remain in the same place. If not housing, congestion will become a problem. It is ideal for a city to spread out in such a way that the population density is spread out relatively evenly. It will only happen if economic opportunities and infrastructure facilities are evenly spread out. Government cannot control where people choose to live but the government can definitely nudge people by improving different parts of the city.

To summarize, affordable housing is one big area that the government needs to get right in order to ensure sustainable growth of Ahmedabad. Government can do that by directly getting involved or take help from market forces. It has to learn from the mistakes of metro cities and ensure that growth is planned and inclusive.

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