Thursday, January 04, 2018

Public Rental Housing under Social Security: A New Slant

By Nimish Sany*
Problems with the Indian rental housing market are manifold. While private rental markets have never been free from government intervention, public rental housing projects have never been coherent with market realities. Consequently, the demand–supply mismatch in the rental housing market in India is enormous with policy inconsistency widening the gap.
As per the findings of the Technical Group on Urban Housing Shortage set up by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA), there exists an unmet demand of 7 million rental housing units across Indian cities, but recent reports put it at 19 million[1]. If these figures are indeed true, such a huge demand can never be met with public resources alone. The Public Rental Housing Estates (PRHE) of Kolkata stands a stark reminder of this. Around 20,000 rental housing units were built across the city during the 1970s to provide affordable housing to the large influx of migrant labour, using central and state resources. However, a rental structure disengaged from the market led to the infeasibility of the project. This, coupled with the lack of transparency in allowing these units to low-income groups kept the units from circulating to those in need, ultimately forcing the state government to discontinue the misadventure.
The inclusion of private sectors is necessary to meet the market demand for rental housing. However, the Public–Private Partnership (PPP) model should pose minimum risks for all parties involved. The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority–Rental Housing Scheme (MMRDA-RHS) of 2008 is an example of a flawed PPP model that caused crores of taxpayers’ money to go down the drain. Private developers were to buy the land under this model, and incentives were given to the developers to balance this risk. But the shortage of housing stock and demand for luxury housing led to private developers misusing an incentive structure that was already unsound, resulting in poorly constructed structures that were uninhabitable. The most appalling of all was the oversight in leaving rental housing with MMRDA, which had no executive powers to implement several aspects of the PPP model. The Direct Relation Rental Housing (DRRH) model put forward by the MoHUPA in its Draft PPP for Affordable Housing in India, too, puts the risk of construction and rent collection on the private developer. Such a high-risk model would never attract private developers and governments should think twice before incentivising such models[2].
The requirements of affordable public rental housing do not stop at a stable PPP model. The regulatory environment should facilitate market dynamics in the rental market by revisiting the Rent Control Act. There exist vast differences in municipal tax structures and fees for civic services between owned and rented housing. Such regulations have an adverse bearing on the rental market and keep the pressure on public housing stocks. The immediate strategy should be to enable the market to utilise the existing housing stock completely to meet the rising demand.
The long-term strategy should be to approach public rental housing as a temporary housing solution under universal social security coverage. The principle should be to enable households to settle down and grow by utilising the social security assistance towards private rental markets. The HartzIV model for unemployment benefits devised in Germany was a hugely unpopular one, but had merit in reducing unemployment, owing to the assistance granted for a limited period and its allocation following a gradient along the individual’s efforts to secure employment. A similar model could be implemented with the public housing stock to keep the pressure off the market and circulate affordable rental housing units to the maximum number. As Milton Friedman points out in one of his lectures on public housing, the repeated failures of (public) housing projects show it is not the particular programme but the system that needs to be changed.

*Nimish Sany is Research Assistant at Centre for Public Policy Research. Views expressed by the author is personal and does not represent that of CPPR

[1]The rental housing approach for India – Pritika Hingorani, Rohan Shridhar, Meenaz Munshi
[2]Public Social Rental Housing in India: Opportunities and Challenges – Swastik Harish

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

CPPR's social media presence on Blockathon makes a mark!

by Shonit Nayan

US Consulate General, Chennai; with Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR), Maker Village and Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) organized 'Blockathon for Change' to address the societal issues of migrant labourers using blockchain technology.
Migrant labourers are often a disadvantaged and vulnerable group because of associated socio-economic and cultural issues. In India, massive interstate migration of labourers poses serious predicaments warranting immediate attention both at the ground level and policy level. The first-of-its-kind hackathon in India was designed to beneficially employ the blockchain technology for offering comprehensive solutions to mitigate problems related to migrant labour.
While interning at CPPR, I got an opportunity to be a part of my first hackathon. I learned how social media platforms were extensively used to create buzz for the Blockathon and blockchain technology.
CPPR used Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to provide information about the event, shared creative reveals of special guests at the event and established event’s hashtag- #BlockathonforChange. They posted countdowns to the event and creative images to motivate sharing.

Before the event,behind-the-scenes pictures were shared to boost conversation and engagement.

People used Facebook for sharing live videos of the sessions or tweeted key quotes from speakers. For more engagement feedback videos of the audiences and participants were also shared.

When I shared the feedback video on my Facebook page many of my friends liked it and started to enquire about the event. It gave me a sense of pride and I felt special to be a part of the event. #BlockathonForChange was trending on Twitter, and it was a wonderful experience to be a part it.

Through this event I not only learned about blockchain technology but importantly learned the relevance of social media.Thankful to CPPR for this wonderful learning journey via this BLOCKATHON!!!!

*This blog is written by Shonit Nayan Interning at CPPR and is Pursuing his Masters in Public Administration. Views expressed by the author is personal and does not represent that of CPPR

Gods own country gives technological solution for Migrant labourers

By Mathews Raju*

Almost every day, we hear some news regarding migrant labourers. Most of these labourers hail from various parts of India and some even from other countries such as Bangladesh or Nepal, and they reside here without proper documents. Migrant labourers play a vital role in building Kerala’s economy, and it’s important that we address the challenges they face.
US Consulate General, Chennai; and Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR) joined hands with Maker Village, and Kerala Start-up Mission to conduct Blockathon for Change, a hackathonto solve migrant labour issues using blockchain technology. Since I am an intern at CPPR, I got an opportunity to attend this hackathon. From what I understood, a hackathon is an event where participants are assigned with certain problem statements and they have to find a solution to those problems, mostly using technology. At Blockathon for Change, they are to use blockchain technology which has been making news as of lately.
Before attending the event, I had no idea how blockchain technology works or the potential of it. During the event, teams presented their solutions such as Skillchain, Pravasi, etc. From what I understood, Blockchain can take care of most of the issues these labourers face on the employment front through trusted payment mechanisms, employment history, etc. which are some of the issues migrant labourers face in Kerala. On my interaction with the winners, I was told that they will improvise their solutions and put them out as finished products in the market.
It was fun attending the event and interacting with techies from various parts of India. The speakers invoked ideas about technology, societal issues, etc. Over two days’ time, Blockathon for Change helped me learn about a new technology which is going to be tomorrow’s revolution.

*This blog is written by Mathews Raju Interning at CPPR and Pursuing Bachelors in Technology. Views expressed by the author is personal and does not represent that of CPPR