How can vertical development solve Pakistan’s housing crisis?


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Introduction

Cities are constantly expanding in the face of rural to urban migrations, population increase, and natural growth. The phenomenon is perceived as a positive indicator for economic growth. However, challenges of affordable housing, transport, health services, and urban infrastructure are mounting pressure on local governments to adopt the vertical approach to development (Abdul, 2020). Considering that a high-rise can accommodate multiple residential and commercial units, Pakistan can tackle its affordable housing crisis with greater efficiency and success using the vertical development model. On the other hand, many cities worldwide have expanded beyond control into forests and agricultural lands to build houses, shopping centres, and factories. Horizontal expansion of cities also makes people live far away from city centres which house all the jobs and markets. This makes the provision of mobility and municipal services a significant challenge for the government. Graana.com in collaboration with IIPS brings you ways you can understand the challenges of affordable housing and how vertical development can help become a solution for sustainable urban developmental challenges.

 

Research Questions

Is affordable housing limited to the cost of a house? 

Why does Pakistan need to address its housing crisis?

How vertical housing is the future of Pakistan’s housing development?

 

Why Pakistan Needs to Address its Housing Challenge?

Affordable housing is not just limited to the cost of buying a house; it is an all-encompassing feature, including the costs for operations and maintenance of the building, along with the cost of accessibility to social infrastructure (WEF, 2019). A large part of house affordability is related to house purchase price. House price is determined by a variety of different factors, including, but not limited to, the cost of land, infrastructure, building materials, labour, and profit. As much of the population does not have enough savings to invest large amounts of money towards building a house, the ability to finance down payments on mortgages is also an important factor in measuring the affordability of houses. The number of available funds, existing debts, and loan amount all add to the affordability of a house. In terms of the costs incurred to keep the house, major considerations are house occupation cost and financing of service loans. Land lease, home insurance, property tax, building maintenance costs, interest rates, loan tenure, and income and non-housing expenditure are among other major factors that affect a house’s affordability. Therefore, making housing affordable is a task that involves improvements in many areas. There is no universal standard of affordable housing because ideas differ by region and culture (WEF, 2019).

A safe, decent, and affordable house is fundamental to forging a path out of poverty. Having a home translates into better opportunities for children and parents, financial freedom for families, independent living, stability, and security (Cunningham et al., 2019). Pakistan has the highest per capita demand for housing in the world. The county is currently short of 10 million housing units for its population, with the demand increasing by 300,000 units yearly (NPHP, 2017). Due to this high demand, the cost of purchasing land in urban centres has risen exponentially over the years, making the middle and lower-middle-class unable to buy land in urban areas. Most of those who migrate from rural to urban areas are forced to live in informal settlements that do not provide adequate municipal services, security of tenure, or development facilities (Avis, 2016). These informal settlements are growing with time and expanding into the outskirts of major cities, utilising agricultural and forest land in doing so. Not only does this have a detrimental impact on the environment, but it also becomes a major challenge for future developmental projects planned to be carried out in those areas, provision of municipal services, and enforcement of regulations and bylaws. If Pakistan can solve its affordable housing crisis, the country can experience growth in its economy, revitalise its real estate sector, and bring many people out of poverty.

 

Can Vertical Development Solve Pakistan’s Housing Crisis?

Vertical development can become the most practical solution for tackling the shortage of land faced by many growing cities. A vertical city is an arrangement of interconnected mega towers that contains housing, stores, hospitals, schools, farms, and outdoor spaces, all in one building or a series of connected structures (Mathews, 2018). Rising populations, shrinking spaces, and a desire to remain close to city centres have increased the utilisation of multi-story buildings. The world is filled with examples of such high-rises, showing that Pakistan can also adopt the practice to make its cities more sustainable. The Government of Pakistan has taken positive steps towards banning real estate development projects on fertile agricultural lands and encouraged the vertical growth of cities. In addition, the government is also promoting vertical development by integrating high-rise construction in its signature development projects, such as the Naya Pakistan Housing Program (NPHP). 

The primary motivation for introducing vertical development is to increase the standard of living for most of the population and to stop the horizontal spread of cities. The vertical housing model is relatively cheaper as many units can be built on the same piece of land, limiting the cost of buying several plots for building equal units horizontally. Hence, it can become an affordable housing model for the underprivileged and help developing countries like Pakistan cover their housing shortage. A vertically developed infrastructure is also environmentally sustainable as it has a reduced carbon footprint compared to horizontal expansion. The current government’s plan to introduce vertical development policies is also in line with the ‘billion-tree tsunami’ project to reclaim forest areas in different parts of the country. With positive environmental benefits, vertical development can elevate the standard of living for the country’s population and become an effective solution to decreasing informal settlements.

 

Conclusion

As cities continue to expand due to population growth, rural to urban migrations, and natural growth, high-rise accommodation can help solve Pakistan’s affordable housing crisis. A safe, decent, and affordable house is fundamental to bringing people out of poverty, providing financial freedom, stability, and security for families. Pakistan has the highest per capita demand for housing in the world. If Pakistan can solve its affordable housing crisis, the country can experience growth in its economy, revitalise its real estate sector, and bring many people out of poverty. Vertical development offers the best solution to tackling affordable housing challenges in Pakistan as shared living spaces are easier to manage, easier to build, and require less area to construct a significantly high number of units.

 

Key Takeaways

  • Cities are constantly expanding in the face of rural to urban migrations, population expansion, and natural growth.
  • Considering that a high-rise can accommodate multiple residential and commercial units, Pakistan can tackle its affordable housing crisis with greater efficiency and success using the vertical development model.
  • Horizontal expansion of cities also makes people live far away from city centres which house all the jobs and markets.
  • Pakistan has the highest per capita demand for housing in the world. However, the country is currently short of 10 million housing units for its population, with the demand increasing by 300,000 units yearly.
  • Due to this high demand, the cost of purchasing land in urban centres has risen exponentially over the years, making the middle and lower-middle-class unable to afford land in urban areas.
  • Most of those who migrate from rural to urban areas are forced to live in informal settlements that do not provide adequate municipal services, security of tenure, or development facilities.
  • If Pakistan can solve its affordable housing crises, the country can experience growth in its economy, revitalise its real estate sector, and bring many people out of poverty.
  • The Government of Pakistan has taken positive steps towards banning real estate development projects on fertile agricultural lands and encouraged the vertical growth of cities.  

 

Bibliography

Abdul, L. (2020). Resilient Urbanization: A Systematic Review on Urban Discourse in Pakistan. Department of Urban Planning, School of Architecture, Tsinghua University. https://www.mdpi.com/2413-8851/4/4/76/pdf

Avis, W. R. (2016). Urban Governance. GSDRC Applied Knowledge Services. Retrieved June 30, 2021, from https://gsdrc.org/topic-guides/urban-governance/key-policy-challenges/informal-settlements/

Cunningham, M., Gillespie, S., & Batko, S. (2019). How Housing Matters for Families. Urban Institute. https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/100292/how_housing_matters_for_families_1.pdf

NPHP. (2017). Housing Crises in Pakistan: Review of Population Growth and Deficiencies in Housing Laws and Policies. International Journal of Sciences: Basic and Applied Research. https://nphp.com.pk/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/ACASH%20Research/Pakistan-%20Housing%20Crises%20in%20Pakistan,%20Review%20of%20Population%20Growth.pdf

WEF. (2019). Making Affordable Housing a Reality in Cities. World Economic Forum. http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Making_Affordable_Housing_A_Reality_In_Cities_report.pdf

 

 




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