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close this bookNational Experiences with Shelter Delivery for the Poorest Groups (HABITAT, 1994, 140 p.)
close this folderIII. SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
View the documentA. Leaving the poor out
View the documentB. An integrated urban shelter strategy for the poor
View the documentC. Summary of recommendations
View the documentD. Directions for future research

D. Directions for future research

The need for research on how to enable the various low-income groups to help themselves to obtain better shelter and living conditions is extensive. Some key issues are outlined below.

1. More empirical documentation is required to convince planners and politicians that investment in housing in general, and in shelter for the poor in particular, constitutes a boost to economic growth. It is necessary to show that in different contexts and under various circumstances the multiplier effects, backward linkages and employment impacts are significant and relatively high compared with investments in other sectors.

2. The functioning of markets for plots and shelter in slums, squatter settlements and on pavements needs to be further clarified. Furthermore, the role of intermediaries and of the mode of operation of local mafia-like groups must be analysed in specific empirical settings.

3. The question of the saving capability of different poor groups is still undecided. In the literature, support is given to the view that there is quite a substantial potential for saving for shelter even among subsistence poor, but as this is refuted by other studies.

4. Analyses must be made on how to arrive at the right balance between the ability of the poor to pay and the need to let house rents increase according to inflation, to encourage building maintenance and investments in new accommodation for rent. It is not only a question of level of rent and rate of increases but of how subsidies may be used to close the gap between what the poor can pay and what business will accept. The mechanisms and practices whereby house-owners and landlords avoid existing legislation regarding rents should be identified.

5. Research must address the question of how to establish the right balance between market liberalization and deregulation and government interventions for different subsectors of the housing sector and for different places.

6. Studies should be carried out on the mechanisms by which adopted government shelter policies fail to be implemented. What are the countervailing forces and how can they in turn be countered?

7. The poor do not constitute a homogeneous group. The variation in levels of poverty and in living conditions must be taken into consideration when planning shelter and settlement projects. For certain groups among the poor relocation may imply less of their sources of livelihood, and thus entail a worsening situation. Not only must shelter type and settlement form vary according to the degree of poverty and the kinds of sources of livelihood different groups of poor have, the type and extent of organization and external support must also be adapted to the specific needs of poor people living in special circumstances. Existing information on these issues is sporadic. Systematic research, with clearly defined and operationalized categories of poor people is highly needed.