Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday announced the second tranche of ₹20 lakh crore economic package to provide ease of living at affordable rent aimed at helping thousands of migrant workers and urban poor who are the worst hit by COVID-19. Giving details of this package, she announced that the central government will launch a scheme for affordable rental housing complexes for urban poor and migrants workers under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) scheme.
Announcing the scheme for Affordable Rental Housing Complexes, Nirmala Sitharaman said migrant workers need affordable and convenient rental housing in urban areas in addition to social security. The government had launched Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Grameen) and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) in 2015 under the ‘Housing for All’ initiative.
The nationwide lockdown due to the pandemic Coronavirus has exposed the vulnerability of migrant workers and urban poor to sudden disruptions as they are now struggling to sustain their lives during this period. They are facing uncertainty over their employment while daily wagers have no protection at all. These migrant workers are even facing eviction problems for not being able to pay rent as businesses have come to a halt. Similarly, it is difficult to ensure the government’s advice to landlords not to demand rent from them for a couple of months during the outbreak of this pandemic.
Since migrant workers and other urban poor face difficulties in finding affordable rental housing, the Finance Minister said a scheme to build Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHCs) through public-private partnership (PPP) model would be launched under the existing Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) scheme. Speaking to the media here, she said that under the scheme, government-funded housing in different cities will be converted into affordable rental housing complexes under the PPP model.
Both public and private agencies will be incentivised to build rental housing on government and private land while existing government housing will be converted into rental units.
The scheme will have three components:
In a first tranche, unoccupied houses across cities being built under different government-funded schemes could be put to use in a short time frame by converting them into Affordable Rental Housing Complexes under the PPP model through the concessionaire. The Centre will convert the government-funded housing complexes in cities into ARHCs so that it could be rented out to migrant workers and urban poor at reasonable rates.
In the second component, the government will incentivise manufacturing units, industries, and institution associations to develop ARHCs on their private lands and also operate them.
On similar lines, central and state government agencies will also be incentivised to develop ARHCs and operate them. The details of the scheme will be released soon.
The affordable rental scheme is a step towards addressing the issue of the housing of urban poor and migrant workers and will provide them quality accommodation and security to encourage these workers to not return to their native places in a crisis like COVID-19.
This move will help migrant workers and urban poor to live in cities by paying reasonable rents at these government complexes. The steps will also give the much-needed impetus to the revival of the real estate sector and allied industries like steel and cement. With this move, urban poor and migrant workers can look forward to having access to quality and affordable accommodation for themselves in urban areas. Affordable Rental Housing Complexes will provide social security and quality life to migrant labour, urban poor, and students, etc.