The India Infrastructure Report 2018: Making Housing Affordable focuses on key supply-side constraints in the housing market in urban India. A host of restrictive policies have prevented supply from keeping pace with demand and made housing less affordable in Indian cities. Most government housing schemes have also fallen short of targets, and a shift away from primarily relying on demand-side interventions or government-led construction, will be imperative to achieve ‘Housing for All by 2022’. We suggest that the government focus its efforts in areas where the market does not operate, such as providing mass public transit and public services, and facilitate the effective functioning of land and housing markets. These measures will particularly help in make housing affordable for low-income households whom the market cannot serve.
The Economic Survey of India 2017-18, Volume II released on 31st Jan 2018 included our analysis on the state of housing in its Chapter 8, titled 'Industry and Infrastructure'. The chapter discusses the declining share of rental housing in the total housing stock in urban India from 1961 to 2011, and sheds light on the vacant housing problem that is becoming increasingly acute.
The India Infrastructure Report 2018 was released at the IDFC Institute Political Economy Dialogues, in June 2018 by Hardeep Singh Puri, Union Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs (Independent Charge), Government of India. This report is an attempt to reframe the contours of the housing problem in urban India and pivot policy thinking from building affordable housing towards making housing affordable.
We focus on supply-side measures, removing market and regulatory distortions that reduce costs, and increase supply of housing stock at a larger scale in cities. The typical demand-side intervention has been to make housing easier to buy, but with limited supply this only pushes house prices further up as more money chases the same housing stock.
We view housing as a means to access opportunity, rather than just as an asset for ownership. As the income of a household goes up, it tries to find the optimal balance between proximity to the workplace, greater security of tenure, and better amenities (schools, hospitals, etc.). We therefore argue that rental housing provides households more control over the quality of their housing choices and the number of times they can make this choice.
We recommend looking at housing and mass transport in conjunction, making the case for cities as labour markets and mass transport as the means to facilitate labour mobility across the market.
Please click here to access the report.