Slums and High Rises in India

A couple of weeks ago, the online magazine Slate had an interesting story that’s relevant to our discussion of Q&A. Although India has been well known for having enormous slums full of the desperately poor, they are attempting, at least here and there, to change that image. But whether they’re changing the reality is an open question.

The Mumbai slum redevelopment policy is the brainchild of local starchitect Hafeez Contractor, who is not coincidentally the designer of Imperial Towers. “I used to always say something should be done about the slums. And I always used to say that the best way of [dealing with] slums was that you give them free houses, keep the land, and build on it and make money,” Contractor told me when we met in his office near the Mumbai stock exchange. “When I first told them in 1982 … everybody said I am crazy. Today, they are implementing it.”

The program doesn’t rent the apartments to the residents of these slums, it gives it to them; they own it. However:

But because the policy calls for rehousing the poor without doing anything to raise their incomes, many end up unable to pay for utilities or contribute to the upkeep of the buildings through residents’ association dues.

There’s much to blog about here, if you read the whole thing.

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