Various countries and institutions define affordable housing as housing units that can be afforded by people who are middle to low-income and are able to address their housing needs at an income below the median household income. Apart from providing the physical structure, the space should also provide facilities and equipment for the overall mental and physical well-being and the family as a whole.
Various factors aggravate the availability of these units, such as inflation, increase in population, unchecked and obsolete government policies, shortage of land for development, and gentrification. These factors occur at different intensities and never independently. As a result, they push many of the population, largely in the urban environment, to homelessness.
Housing is considered affordable if its cost, whether mortgage or rent, is below 30 per cent of the household income and the cost of amenities is within reach of the same income; a cost burden is when more than 30 per cent is paid for the same.
Cities are growing very fast. However, the development of facilities is much slower, and no action is taken by the relevant authorities to fill these gaps. It has been estimated that in some fast-growing cities, 40 to 75 per cent of the population is housed in informal settlements bordering the more established setups. These settlements develop from the need to house the informal staff in the urban environment. It is estimated that around 800 million people are in developing. Countries only live in slums, a spike from the 689 million in the 90s. In a data collection mission, UN-HABITAT determined that other available housing units were not affordable except for informal settlements, regardless of the registered GDP of the country.
Following this, the relevant authorities should prioritise providing safe and equipped housing solutions to cater to the population. Informed by the concern rising from these statistics provision of affordable housing has been adopted by the UN as one of the Sustainable Development Goals. With the data-based framework, there needs to be a collaboration between the UN and local governments to combat these issues before they fully get out of hand.
Different countries need to benchmark because this is a global issue. For instance, take Indonesia; it has been determined that to meet the demand, there is a need to add 800,000 to a million units per annum to meet the demand arising from rural to urban migration. In contrast, Thailand has the highest homeownership rate in the world, with 81 percent of its population being homeowners.
Different countries have employed different strategies: clearance of slums and rehousing of their residents, public construction, and government intervention. Used individually or in ratios to each other may offer long-term relief.
Most third-world countries in Africa and across the Caribbean have adopted the first approach to deal with the fast growth of slum developments in these states.
Modular Architecture is the solution | Modular Housing
Modular buildings are prefabricated buildings constructed off-site and later brought to the site for assembly. The buildings are 60 to 90 per cent completed at the factory and brought to the site for assembly. A prefabricated building is composed of multiple modules stacked on top of each other. They can be attached side-by-side, end-to-end, or stacked on top of each other; this gives many possibilities for assembly.
Modular housing units have reduced energy consumption by upwards of 40 per cent per annum in European countries; this has been especially observed regarding the cost of heating these spaces. In addition to making savings in running costs, minimal wastage is seen during construction and its life cycle.
Although jobs may be reduced on-site, manufacturing factories may be set up in areas with high rates of employment. This will help reduce land pressure in other places and lend strides toward devolution.
The ease of manufacture and assembly and the overall affordability of the respective undertaking presents itself as an achievable solution to the housing crisis experienced by a majority of developing countries. These homes are easily manufactured and maintained we can therefore put them up fast and efficiently, adding momentum to the war against homelessness. They are affordable, energy-efficient, and environmentally friendly.
Modular construction allows for the construction process and site work to be conducted simultaneously, and using some materials has been proven to reduce the overall construction process by up to 50 per cent. In addition to these labour costs, financing and time spent are reduced as different elements of the building can be put up simultaneously easily to fabricate and execute, which still allows for individuality.
This type of construction creates opportunities to quickly put up structures in remote locations quickly and efficiently as the building arrives on-site almost 100 per cent complete.
With the development of technology, accurate projections of material use can be made, minimising wastage. The creation of modular units allows for adequate preparation as the elements are prepared prior and in strict proportions to be used. This is done to make the construction process faster.
Prefabricated buildings cause minimal disturbance on site, which enables the process to be carried out in tight spaces or places that remain actively in use.
Modular homes offer flexibility in construction, as they can be assembled and disassembled when the need for modification arises. Construction can also be constructed as needed, with no snagging or defects; a single crane can install a house completely in one day, far faster than traditional construction. Buildings can rise higher in response to demand, reducing the waste of investment and unused space.
The biggest limitation that may face the construction of these structures is transportation from the factory to the site, but this may be solved by preparing components rather than the whole modular unit. Some financial institutions may hesitate to offer financial assistance to construct these units.
Modular-Timber System Affordable housing by HA-HA
HA-HA designs, which created an affordable housing project in Rotterdam composed of modular timber units, would design A stellar example.
The project included the development of four housing projects that use materials from previously existing social housing projects built in the 50s. The old buildings are taken apart and, after integration with new elements, reconstructed following the new design. This approach effectively brought up the number of units by 13 per cent.
- 12 benefits of Modular Buildings (no date) Algeco. Available at: https://www.algeco.co.uk/products/12-benefits-modular-buildings#:~:text=Modular%20buildings%20can%20be%20easily,your%20building%20as%20time%20progresses. (Accessed: February 12, 2023).
- 6 affordable housing development challenges that need immediate … – ahis (no date). Available at: https://www.ahisummit.com/6-affordable-housing-development-challenges-that-need-immediate-attention-in-africa/ (Accessed: February 12, 2023).
- Accelerating start-ups in affordable housing in Kenya (no date) Habitat For Humanity. Available at: https://www.habitat.org/emea/newsroom/2019/accelerating-start-ups-affordable-housing-kenya (Accessed: February 12, 2023).
- Affordable housing (no date) Habitat For Humanity. Available at: https://www.habitat.org/emea/about/what-we-do/affordable-housing (Accessed: February 12, 2023).
- Clough, H. (2022) Is modular housing the solution to the Housing Crisis?, Planning, BIM & Construction Today. Available at: https://www.pbctoday.co.uk/news/planning-construction-news/modular-housing-solution-housing-crisis/116400/ (Accessed: February 12, 2023).
- How we can solve the nation’s affordable housing crisis | CNN business (2022) CNN. Cable News Network. Available at: https://edition.cnn.com/2022/02/16/perspectives/affordable-housing-crisis/index.html (Accessed: February 12, 2023).
- Is modular housing the solution to the Housing Crisis? (2022) Modular Home Builders Association. Available at: https://www.modularhome.org/2022/08/22/is-modular-housing-the-solution-to-the-housing-crisis/ (Accessed: February 12, 2023).
- Modular building (2022) Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modular_building (Accessed: February 12, 2023).
- Only 13% of the world’s cities have affordable housing – according to new research: (no date) UN. Available at: https://unhabitat.org/only-13-of-worlds-cities-have-affordable-housing-according-to-new-research (Accessed: February 12, 2023).
- Warwick, S. (2021) What are modular homes and what do they cost? we have the lowdown, Real Homes. Real Homes. Available at: https://www.realhomes.com/advice/what-are-modular-homes (Accessed: February 12, 2023).
- What has caused the global housing crisis – and how can we fix it? (no date) World Economic Forum. Available at: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/06/how-to-fix-global-housing-crisis/ (Accessed: February 12, 2023).
- Thompson, J. (2019). Modular construction: A solution to affordable housing challenges. Cornell Real Estate Review, 17, 90-97. Retrieved from: https://scholarship.sha.cornell.edu/crer/vol17/iss1/21/