Affordable Housing

2024 MAY 15

Mains   > Social justice   >   Development Processes & Industry   >   Urban housing


GS 2 >> Social Justice >> Schemes for vulnerable sections of society


Affordable housing continues to be a significant challenge in India. The 2011 Census reveals that approximately 1.7 million people in India are homeless and urgently require access to affordable homes. Even for those with housing, issues such as poor construction quality, overcrowding, and insufficient infrastructure are major concerns.


According to the definition of government, affordable housing properties are those properties with an area not more than 60 sq.m and their price capped at ?45 lakh. The right to housing has been held to be a part of the fundamental right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution by the Supreme Court.


  • According to a Government of India report in 2012, an estimated 18.78 million more houses were required to cater to the housing demand in the country.
  • A study done by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) in 2020 has found that India’s urban housing shortage rose by 54% from 2012 to 29 million in 2018. (This included homeless populations, inadequate houses that could not be upgraded, obsolete houses, and congested households).
  • According to the 2011 census, about 5% of India’s total population (over 65 million people), lived in slums.


  1. Unmet Targets of PMAY(U) and PMAY(G) - PMAY(U) aimed to provide housing for 1.18 crore families by December 2024. As of March 2024, it has achieved only about 67% of this goal, approximately 80 lakh homes. Constraints of these schemes include limitations like PMAY(U) being applicable only to families with access to capital and land, excluding the urban landless poor.
  2. High Costs of Housing Units - The elevated prices of land and construction materials render affordable homes financially inaccessible for the low-income demographic, who are unable to purchase homes without subsidies.
  3. Unaffordable Vacant Units - An analysis by the Centre for Social and Economic Progress using 2011 Census data reveals that, despite a shortage of 19 million urban housing units, there are 11 million vacant units that remain out of reach for the lower middle class due to high costs.
  4. Scarcity of Low-Cost Land - The limited availability of affordable land within city limits is a significant barrier to developing affordable housing projects.
  5. Challenges in Financing - Developers of affordable housing often struggle to secure institutional finance, which is crucial for funding their projects.
  6. Delays by Real Estate Developers - Those working in the affordable housing sector face long approval processes, multiple clearances, and narrow profit margins, all of which cause delays and impede the rapid completion of projects.


  • Indira Awaas Yojana Indira Awaas Yojana was the first policy intervention, which came from the Government in 1985. It focused on rural housing.
  • JNNURM Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), was launched in 2005, with focus on urban housing.
  • Rajiv Awas Yojana and Rajiv Rinn Yojna These urban housing interventions were launched in 2008, based on the Parekh Committee report.
  • Housing for All schemes (2015-22) Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Gramin) and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) are the two wings under the Housing for All schemes (2015-22).
  • The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban)- It was launched in June 2015 to tackle urban homelessness. PMAY-U promised houses for 1.18 crore families by December 2024. However, as of March 2024, it has only achieved around 67% of its target of 80 lakh.
  • Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Gramin)- It was launched in 2016 to construct 2.95 crore houses. The scheme offers ?1.3 lakh for each unit constructed under the scheme, with a 60:40 funding split between the Centre and State. As of April 30, 2024, a total of 2.6 crore houses have been completed.              


  1. Addressing Demand-Side Constraints - Implementing subsidies and allocating funds for the development of affordable infrastructure, as well as providing essential services and amenities around housing projects, can invigorate the affordable housing sector.
  2. Developing a Mature Rental Market - Establishing a robust rental market for affordable housing will contribute to the comprehensive growth of the sector, ensuring more people have access to housing options.
  3. Expanding Rental Vouchers - Broad implementation of the rental voucher scheme under the National Urban Rental Housing Policy will help the urban poor and migrants afford private rentals in desirable locations.
  4. Improving Administrative Efficiency - Regulatory authorities need to expedite the approval process and regulatory clearances for affordable housing projects to stimulate sector growth.
  5. Focusing on Urban Housing Needs - Shifting some focus and resources from rural to urban housing projects could better support the workforce in urban and semi-urban areas, thereby enhancing labor mobility and boosting economic productivity.

Thus, Policy reforms for the affordable housing sector should be participatory. They must also take into account other stakeholders and the reality of the real estate market.


Q: Explain the significance of ‘Affordable Housing’ in the Human & Economic Development of India. (10M,150W)