World Habitat Day to address Affordable Homes through Housing Policies

World Habitat Day to address Affordable Homes through Housing Policies

On Monday 2 October 2017, the World Urban Campaign partners will be proud to celebrate the World Habitat Day on the theme ‘Housing Policies: Affordable Homes’, supporting the mandate of UN-Habitat.
In The City We Need, the WUC manifesto towards Habitat III, stakeholders have acknowledged the key challenges with regard to housing for the city of the 21st century. Firstly, the poorly regulated real estate markets in many urban contexts that create speculative bubbles and financial crises and further exacerbate lack of security of tenure and access to affordable housing. Secondly, the persistence of inadequate housing and land management policies in many countries around the world that exclude large segments of the population from accessing affordable housing leading to the formation and continued growth of slums, informal settlements and exacerbating homelessness. 

As claimed by the WUC partners, The City We Need promotes the “right to the city for all”. This entails the right to a dignified and secure existence with access to decent housing, public goods and services and a voice in decision- making. Also, in the City We Need resources are distributed equitably and opportunities are available to all. Land, infrastructure, housing, transport and basic services are planned and operated with special attention to improving access by women and low-income and disadvantaged groups. Public services are designed with the participation of communities and consciously include the needs, safety and dignity of women, elderly, children and youth, persons with disabilities and marginalized groups.

Drivers of Change

The following drivers of change related to housing have been highlighted in The City We Need. Those are also directly connected to land and services:
  • A rights-based approach and social justice agenda should be institutionalized that ensures access and commitment to land, housing, and services for all. Cities should adopt innovative and flexible approaches to extend the delivery of these to all of its inhabitants.
  • The adequate allocation of land in cities, and the rights associated to its use are a prerequisite to inclusive and equitable cities. Property rights regimes should ensure social and spatial inclusion, supporting the social function of property and the diversity of land tenure systems in cities and other human settlements.
  • National land policies and frameworks should be in place, including adequate data to inform effective land use plans and to enable democratic mechanisms to review, define and anticipate the needs of property users before plans are generated. They should address the needs for women's secure use, access, control, transfer and right to inheritance of land. Land markets should also be systematically regulated and regularly monitored in order to ensure balanced development and avoid segregation.
  • The intervention of governments in land markets through land use laws and policies is often required to adequately fulfil the social function of land, housing and property; mitigate speculation; protect the tenure of women, elderly persons, children and youth, and other marginalized groups; and ensure affordability of adequate housing and anticipate future needs of land for both social housing and socially produced habitat. Policies and plans should ensure the allocation of an appropriate share of land to public space. Programs should be in place to develop social and individual dwellings that recognize, regulate, and foster the development of homes for productive activities for women.
  • Informal settlements need to be recognized by governments and integrated into policies, strategies and plans to guarantee their inclusion in the urban fabric and the access of their residents to basic services, as well as to ensure their security of tenure.
  • National housing policies and strategies should promote affordable housing and recognize the role of the social production of housing for low-income groups. Those include appropriate financial mechanisms for affordable housing. Housing strategies should be holistic, focusing on community well-being and poverty alleviation.
  • Special attention should be paid to homelessness through a coordinated approach between different social and welfare services and the provision of adequate shelter facilities.
WUC Partners are celebrating the theme that has been largely addressed in a number of Urban Thinkers Campuses around the World in 2017, as well as projects on the ground with cities and communities to cope with housing needs and support National Urban Policies.
More information is available on the UN-Habitat website.

Article by Christine Auclair, Project Leader, World Urban Campaign
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