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Barrios and Barriers: UN-Habitat Plan on Urban Slum Housing

By Truthout at 12:06 PM 5/31/2020 (PDT)

The UN Humane Settlement Program is currently working on a resolution to provide access to adequate housing in urban slums around the globe. Their hope is to improve quality of life for lower class residents of large cities. This is a difficult task, but they’ve developed a thorough plan, marking a strong start to change.

The first point of the UN-Habitat’s resolution is making sure city governments actively implement and facilitate policies. Governments put policies into effect, but what they need is to enforce and maintain these policies. They also want governments to legally recognize tenements and slums so they can focus aid efforts on these neighborhoods.

Their second point focuses on reforming legislation to break down legislative and economic barriers for affordable housing, including creating a clear definition of “affordable housing.” This definition will provide clear guidelines to determine if an area’s housing is truly affordable. The UN-Habitat defines affordable housing as “Sale price not exceeding 3 times the average household income in local slums,” and “monthly rent not exceeding 30% of the average monthly household income in local slums”

They plan to improve citywide amenities and infrastructure including but not limited to, sanitation systems, sustainable energy, affordable public transportation, and various health services. This works to improve quality of life for slum residents. This facet of the plan is unique because it focuses on more than just physical housing, but quality of life. This is an underrated aspect of what makes “adequate housing.”

The UN-Habitat’s plan also includes provisions to heal weakened city economies by microfinance loans, which create jobs, and subsidizing costs. The cornerstone of their plan is to establish an intergovernmental organization (IGO) to act as a watchdog to make sure policies are enforced. Further details of this IGO remain to be determined.

The UN-Habitat’s plan to ensure access to adequate housing in urban slums is looking very strong. Their plan works to address numerous aspects of community life. They plan to continue debate and refine their resolution.

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