Incremental Construction: A Strategy to Facilitate Access to Housing

Apr 2008
The enabling approach to housing markets promotes financing systems based on family savings, public subsidies and mortgage loans to unleash the potential of individuals and communities to produce and improve dwellings. However, the approach failed to benefit lower-income households, as they have less ability to generate savings or make mortgage payments. These households are forced to use informal mechanisms to access housing, such as purchasing land in illegal subdivisions or squatting on public land and incrementally building their dwellings. The present work argues that supporting the incremental housing construction undertaken by poor households through an enabling approach can make a signifi cant contribution to solving the housing problem in Latin America. The paper discusses the challenges and opportunities in executing this new type of programme, which requires coordinating the resources and capabilities of the beneficiaries with those of the different levels of government and the civil society. While this paper draws on experiences in Latin America and the Caribbean, the proposed approach is also relevant in other settings.