The low-income housing dilemma in developing countries: Tracing the socially constructed nature of key themes

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


    This paper is based on an analysis of the World Bank co-sponsored low-income
    housing projects in an African country, Zimbabwe over a ten-year period. The project is utilised as an instrumental case study to draw key themes of the housing dilemma in developing countries.
    The paper applies the theory of social construction to explain how the housing
    crisis in developing countries continues to persist despite the active involvement of such international agencies as the World Bank, the State, the Private Sector Building Societies and the households themselves. Using the theory of social construction, the paper traces how the key themes on low-income housing perceived as a risk to financial mortgage business, the problem of the affordability phenomena and the ineffectiveness of partnership arrangements in housing delivery are all socially constructed in so many ways that work against the alleviation of the housing dilemma for the poor.
    The development of the understanding and interpretation of the risk
    phenomena in the housing finance sector is typical of the shift of risk from the
    financial sector to the individual household. The current scenario is that the building societies are perceived as exposed to high risk in funding low-income housing projects yet the risks that the mortgaged household faces is generally overlooked. With regard to the concept of affordability, the concept is so developed to focus on the affordability of the poor households with no focus on institutional abilities of agents such as building societies, the state and local governments to provide the poor with an affordable housing finance option.
    The paper questions the neo-liberal interpretation of the phenomena of risk
    and affordability concepts in housing, in particular its thrust for a less active role for the state in providing public housing. In addition the paper exposes the futility of partnership arrangements in low- income housing programs caused by subtle corporate differences between and among those agencies expected to have a common purpose to solve the housing dilemma. These same agencies are
    characterised by incongruent interests and intentions. The paper concludes that the way that the housing problem in developing countries is socially constructed and thus perceived contributes to the continued housing crisis in developing countries.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationAdequate & affordable housing for all
    Subtitle of host publicationResearch, policy, practice: research abstracts from the international housing research conference University of Toronto 2004
    EditorsJ. David Hulchanski, Robert A. Murdie, Philippa Campsie
    Place of PublicationCentre for urban and community studies
    PublisherUniversity of Toronto
    ISBN (Electronic)0772714347
    ISBN (Print)9780772714343
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2004


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