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Affordable housing for the poor


The number of the poor homeless is increasing day by day in the absence of enough affordable options.

The number of the poor homeless is increasing day by day in the absence of enough affordable options. To make housing affordable for all, the country needs innovative and smart solutions, writes Nicola Joseph

Housing in India has been one of the most growth-oriented sectors in terms of investments as well as in its expansion into various sectors essentially, healthcare, educational institutes, senior citizen facilities etc. Housing being a necessity, it is a universal requirement from the rich to the poor. 

With rural incomes generally lower than the urban areas and seasonal unemployment, many households find it difficult to gain ownership of homes. This has implications for social sustainability of rural communities and is causing increased polarisation as younger people migrate to the urban areas in search of jobs leaving behind their old folk and children resulting in negative impact on rural enterprise and economic viability.

In the rural areas, there is a general practice of ownership of property and self-help. Due to the lack of resources, people find it more convenient to build their own houses, arrange for finance, cultivate the land for crops for consumption, etc. Thus, making it hard to crack this segment.

There is a shortage of 18.78 million houses in the country, because of which, the homeless either sleep in the open or by the roadside, railway platforms and under flyovers. Owing to the lack of sufficient facilities, the shortage of housing and the difficulty in obtaining funds for purchasing a house, the concept of a renewable house was established, wherein not only would the house be affordable and funding not very difficult to arrange, but it would be sustainable and ensure upliftment and better standard of living for the occupants.

Lack of affordable options
The number of the poor homeless is increasing day by day in the absence of enough affordable options. The challenge is not only to find a low-cost solution but to find a solution which reduces the financial burden on such families. What if we had a solution wherein occupying a house can earn for the occupants? ‘A house which earns’ will eventually uplift local communities economically, slowly leading to reducing the gap between the haves and the have-nots. Renewable sources of power like solar and wind energy will be harnessed to develop a standardised solution, wherein the power generation is an integral and integrated part. It will not only produce its own power but will be able to generate excess power. 

The project, titled ‘Powerhouse’ is a global collaborative mission to design not only a house but even the process of enabling such a solution to the potential end users. 

The Powerhouse mission has been initiated through CRISP Social Ventures India (CSVI), which is promoted by the alumni of the Chevening Rolls Royce Science and Innovation Leadership Programme (CRISP). CRISP is a unique leadership programme for mid-career Indian and Sri Lankan professionals working in the fields of science, innovation, business and related public administration, funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the UK government, and conducted by Oxford University, UK. Given the UK connect, Powerhouse has also received support from the British High Commissions in India, Indo-UK Business Council and others.

A collaborative team of architects, engineers, renewable energy experts, policymakers, financers and others working together from the drawing board stage can design the process required for such mass produced ‘net positive’ homes. It is believed that this collaborative approach versus the ‘design in silos’ approach will help develop a holistic, modular and standardised housing solution for the poor in India; and in the process becoming an economic development engine.

A global competitive bid has been launched for interested consortiums and individuals to actively participate and submit expressions of interest. Applications can be submitted at

Author: Nicola Joseph, Maketing Coordinator, Crisp Social Ventures India

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