This paper has three foci. The first is housing policy. By this we mean that we are concerned with particular forms of public action, the specific instruments used in order to carry them out, and the actors and institutions tasked with doing so. The second focus of this paper is to think about a particular object— “affordable housing”— that is an emergent and critical policy terrain. Third, we have chosen to address policy questions through responses to a set of “dynamics” that we believe are particularly relevant to thinking about affordable housing in Indian cities.
The paper is organized as follows. The next part lays down what we understand as “affordable housing”— a term that can mean many things to many people— and presents a set of empirics to locate our understanding of affordability. Following that, we set out ten dynamics that are often seen to be at the root of why extreme housing inequalities persist in Indian cities. For each, we outline existing debates, suggest policy responses and interventions and, at times, mark the medium- and long-term structural changes required. The last section of the paper summarizes by a necessary partial translation into action and locates our suggested interventions with particular institutions and different scales of government.