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Social Housing - How it helps and why governments need to invest in it?
July 1, 2021 at 1:30 PM
by Devayani Bapat
pexels-photo-1633406.jpeg

Loneliness and solitude; these are two emotions that were felt the world over, during the pandemic. A common sentiment of solace, one that was not desired, was sprung upon mankind. It was during this tough phase of the pandemic that one wished for belonging, that feeling of community, that feeling of togetherness. It was the Covid-19 pandemic that made us and especially architects realize the importance of social housing and the need for community building rather than nuclear, dispersed settlements.

Four Reasons why Social Housing is Important for a Country

1. Ignorance isn’t bliss

2. How Social Housing helps Governments

3. The many long term benefits of Social Housing

4. The wider role of Social Housing in Architecture

1. Ignorance isn’t bliss

Apart from social housing being a means to battle the mental health aftermath of the virus, it is important for one to understand that all over the world, there is a population that struggles to put a roof over their heads. This mandatory “Stay at home” policy put into effect by governments all over the world may seem like a first-world problem to most. “I am so disappointed my holiday had to be canceled because of Covid!” “I am so annoyed, I just want to head out to a restaurant for dinner tonight” We’ve all been there, haven’t we?

What we fail to realize is that this is an issue that is born out of privilege, however, a lot of individuals do not have the liberty to even have such a thought. That is where, as architects looking to uplift the infrastructure of the world alongside the government, it is imperative for us to step in and realize the importance of social housing, not only to combat loneliness but also to stem the issue of homelessness, and provide a home for people of the lower economic strata to follow through with the “Stay at home” policy.

2. How Social Housing helps Governments

Not only does social housing help the government to keep individuals employed and generate fuel for the economy, the US employs about 11.2 million individuals, but it also helps reduce the issue of homelessness, housing stress as well as curb the spread of not just the coronavirus but other health issues as well. It is one form of investment the government should invest in as it truly will play a critical role in contributing to some of the most vulnerable households in the world.

While social housing policies have been employed in the past, due to the catastrophic hit taken by the construction sector, it has led to a major setback in developments. Not only does social housing help to provide an equal opportunity for someone without the means to have a warm and safe place to live in but it also helps a person below the poverty line to actually achieve rent payments.

With the loss of jobs, displacement due to the pandemic was an inevitable issue, however social housing helps to nip this issue in the bud by at least reducing the number of people moving out onto the streets, thereby leading to decreased health concerns and a downtick in crimes committed.

3. The many long term benefits of Social Housing

Not only this, but social housing has favorable long-term returns for a Government. The pandemic still continues to have a massive effect on low-income jobs, and with the entire world coming to a standstill, the need for jobs also reduces. Social housing helps to provide stability to people who otherwise would be experiencing high-risk housing issues. It also works towards the betterment of public health in general and contributes to the prevention of mental health disorders in people too! As discussed earlier it not only creates employment opportunities for people in the building industry but also helps allocate jobs to people in security, government policy, and other such sectors as well.

4. The wider role of Social Housing in Architecture

Now how does social housing help architecture? As they say, necessity is the mother of all inventions and what the need of the hour does for the profession, is that it promotes innovation in the architecture industry and allows architects and designers to come up with comprehensive, achievable solutions to build real physical structures that solve the problem. Given the situation, the demand for social housing has only increased however unemployment, rent, and wait times have also increased in proportion thereby only leading to an imbalance of demand and supply. Apart from generating jobs for people, building a virus-resistant social housing system for people to live in is the challenge that architects all over the world are now going to be faced with. Not only is researching and working on the problem a reason for ideation but also it is an exciting time for the industry to work together for a social cause and betterment of the economy and society on the whole.

While the pandemic shifted the tectonic plates of the world quite literally, a return of something this disastrous is a prospect we must now plan for. Poor housing not only leads to increased health and education costs but also an increase in an unproductive population. Providing affordable social housing solutions helps maintain a healthy population and also prevents issues such as homelessness and overcrowding, thereby aiding the government as well as society to grow in the right direction.

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