| Daughters of Sysiphus |
|Mobility and tenure|
1. The majority of low-income households in the KMA. and female-headed households in particular. are dependent on the rental market for the provision of shelter. Contraction and price escalation within this market affect them severely. Attempts to control price escalation through rent controls often result in contraction so rent control is not necessarily an effective means of protecting the viability of rentals as a shelter option. However government subsidies are increasingly teeing targeted at owner-occupiers, thus bypassing a significant section of the low-income population. The whole question of rental housing should be addressed as a central part of housing policy. The current lack of attention to a form of tenure that nearly half of Kingston's female-headed households depend on is a clear example of gender insensitivity and should be redressed.
2. The slow pace with which minimally serviced sites are being developed as part of the National Shelter Strategy means that they are having very little impact on the provision of low-income shelter and it is clear that squatting rates are increasing rather than falling. The prioritized development of a land-banking system and the framing of a comprehensive land policy are urgently required to provide the basis for a more equitable distribution of residential land. Without such a system, squatting will continue to accelerate and will result in growing environmental damage to land that could be developed safely.
3. Far more extensive urban upgrading programmes are needed, particularly in the inner-city areas. Concentrated and expensive improvements that only benefit a few households and that often lead to the displacement of many others are not the answer. Instead developments that allow for incremental improvement in standards over time and that incorporate income-generating strategies for innercity residents should be considered.
4. Many low-income households rent because they cannot afford the down-payments necessary to own either land or a dwelling, even if the land or the dwelling are subsidized developments initiated by the public sector. However leasehold access does not require a downpayment and does provide a reasonably secure form of land tenure. More leasehold land schemes should be developed to provide secure tenure for low-income households, particularly in the early stages of their formation. A particular effort should be made to develop leasehold schemes that can offer shelter options to female heads of household, if necessary, on a quota system that reflects their prevalence in the rental market.
5. The yard functions as an important economic and social safety-net for female-headed households, particularly when the head of household is responsible for young children. Shared infrastructure and child care minimize the outlays that these households must make for such services. However there is no clear policy regarding the preservation of yard accommodation within the KMA or its replication in programmes to provide new housing. The development of such a policy should receive urgent attention.
6. Customary land law gave men and women life-long rights to use of family land. The impact of modern tenure law on the access that women, in particular, have to land should be researched with particular attention to the likely impact of recent land-titling projects implemented by the Government.