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Housing, or more generally living spaces,[1] refers to the construction and assigned usage of houses or buildings collectively, for the purpose of sheltering people — the planning or provision delivered by an authority, with related meanings.[2] The social issue is of ensuring that members of society have a home in which to live, whether this is a house, or some other kind of dwelling, lodging, or shelter.[3] Many governments have one or more housing authorities, sometimes also called a housing ministry, or housing department.


Macroeconomy and housingEdit

Previous research shows that housing price is affected by the macroeconomy. Financial crises, for example, usually reduce the price of housing.[citation needed]

Informal housingEdit

Informal housing settlement in Soweto, South Africa

The term informal housing can include any form of shelter or settlement (or lack thereof) which is illegal, falls outside of government control or regulation, or is not afforded protection by the state.[4] As such, the informal housing industry is part of the informal sector.[5] To have informal housing status is to exist in ‘a state of deregulation, one where the ownership, use, and purpose of land cannot be fixed and mapped according to any prescribed set of regulations or the law.’[4] While there is no global unified law of property ownership[6] typically, the informal occupant or community will lack security of tenure and, with this, ready or reliable access to civic amenities (potable water, electricity and gas supply, sanitation and waste collection). Due to the informal nature of occupancy, the state will typically be unable to extract rent or land taxes.

The term informal housing is useful in capturing informal populations other than those living slum settlements or shanty towns, which are defined more narrowly by the UN Habitat as "contiguous settlement where the inhabitants are characterizes as having inadequate housing and basic services...often not recognised or addressed by the public authorities an integral or equal part of the city."[7]

Common categories or terms for informal housing include slums, slum settlements, shanty towns, squats, homelessness and pavement dwellers.

Informal housing in developing countriesEdit

Homelessness and insecurity of tenure are issues faced by populations around the world. However, there are particularly pernicious circumstances in developing countries that lead to a large proportion of the population resorting to informal housing. According to Saskia Sassen, in the race to become a ‘global city’ with the requisite state-of-the-art economic and regulatory platforms for handling the operations of international firms and markets,’ radical physical interventions in the fabric of the city are often called for, displacing ‘modest, low-profit firms and households’.[8]

If these households lack the economic resilience to repurchase in the same area or relocate to a place that offers similar economic opportunity, they are prime candidates for informal housing. For example, in Mumbai, India, this fast-paced economic growth, coupled with inadequate infrastructure, endemic corruption and the legacy of the restrictive tenancy laws[9] have left the city unable to house the estimated 54% who now live informally.[10]

Many cities in the developing world are experiencing a rapid increase in informal housing, driven by mass migration to cities in search of employment or fleeing from war or environmental disaster. According to Robert Neuwirth, there are over 1 billion (one in seven) squatters worldwide. If current trends continue, this will increase to 2 billion by 2030 (one in four), and 3 billion by 2050 (one in three).[11] Informal housing, and the often informal livelihoods that accompany them, are set to be defining features of the cities of the future.[12]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Ranasinghe ,WC and Hemakumara, GPTS(2018), Spatial modelling of the householders' perception and assessment of the potentiality to improve the urban green coverage in residential areas: A case study from Issadeen Town Matara, Sri Lanka, Ruhuna Journal of Science,Vol 9(1);
  2. ^ "housing". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. ^ Gwendolyn Wright, Building the Dream: A Social History of Housing in America (MIT press, 1983)
  4. ^ a b Roy, Ananya (2009). "Why India Cannot Plan Its Cities". Planning Theory. 8 (1): 80.
  5. ^ "The Informal Economy: Fact Finding Study" (PDF). Department for Infrastructure and Economic Cooperation. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 October 2011. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
  6. ^ Fernandes, Edesio; Varley, Ann (1998). Illegal Cities: Law and Urban Change in Developing Countries. London: Zed Books. p. 4.
  7. ^ Cities Alliance: Cities without Slums (2002). Expert Group Meeting on Urban Indicators, Secure Tenure, Slums and Global Sample of Cities, Monday 28 to Wednesday 30 October 2002. Nairobi, Kenya: United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT).
  8. ^ Sassen, Saskia (2009). "The Global City – Strategic Site/New Frontier" in Dharavi: Documenting Informalities. Delhi: Academic Foundation. p. 20.
  9. ^ "Pro-tenant laws in India often inhibit rental market". Global Property Law Guide. 20 June 2006. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
  10. ^ National Building Organisation (2011). Slums in India: A Statistical Compendium. Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (Government of India).
  11. ^ Neuwirth, Robert. "Our Shadow Cities". TEDTalks. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  12. ^ Laquian, Aprodicio A. Basic housing: policies for urban sites, services, and shelter in developing countries (Ottawa: International Development Research Centre, 1983).

External linksEdit

  The dictionary definition of housing at Wiktionary

  •   Media related to Housing at Wikimedia Commons