Saturday, May 25, 2024

Report on Rental Housing Arrangements of Domestic Workers in Jaipur released

The Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS), a national education institution, in collaboration with the Rajasthan Mahila Kamgar Union (RMKU), launched a report titled, ‘Rental Housing Arrangements of Domestic Workers in Jaipur’. The report was launched in the presence of Dharampal Singh, Divisional Joint Labour Commissioner; Nisar Ahmad, Senior Researcher, Budget Adhyayan Kendra; members of the Union; authors of the report, Kinjal Sampat and Nidhi Sohane; and Gautam Bhan, Associate Dean, IIHS School of Human Development, and was followed by a panel discussion. ​​

The study was conducted across 103 rental housing arrangements of domestic workers in Jaipur, followed by subsequent phases, which examined mobility of domestic workers and impact of COVID- 19 on their rental housing. The report is produced with an intention of engaging urban local bodies, tenants and worker organisations at the grassroot level to facilitate improvement in the living conditions of the workers.

The report concludes with three major takeaways on rental housing for domestic workers and methods of studying them.

Key Findings
It is known that for workers, housing is as much about proximity to livelihood as it is about affordability and quality of shelter. The ways in which housing and work come together are different for different occupational groups. This study is specific to that of a Domestic Worker.

  1. Interconnection of housing and work for low-income and migrant workers especially domestic workers.
    a. Rental housing is the most pervasive form accessed.
    b. Domestic workers specifically need housing closer to their place of work given the nature of work. Therefore, unlike other workers, they can be found spread across the city, especially closer to middle and high-income neighbourhoods rather than concentrated in pockets.
  2. Housing is more than a house; it includes physical amenities, community and social
    infrastructure. In thinking that way, most domestic workers live in setups and not standalone houses that include all this at the level of the house. Public programmes that are intentioned towards improving access to amenities like water and sanitation can be scaled if we consider ‘set up’ as a unit of housing. A tripartite forum of owners, tenants and government can think of how these ‘communal’ services can be improved that can have a direct, positive impact on tenants and owners.
    a. Density per tap for over 54 per cent of those surveyed was as high as 50 to 100 people per tap. Improving this can have a direct impact on improving the quality of living.
    b. About 80 percent of houses pay a unit cost of electricity much higher than what is charged by the State. Therefore the benefits of supplying electricity at subsidised rates may not reach the workers.
  3. An average domestic worker household pays about Rs. 2500 per month as rent which often
    excludes costs of accessing electricity, water and toilet. This constitutes 25 per cent of the
    average salary of Rs. 10,000 per month earned by an urban, informal worker. Despite being
    an inelastic expenditure, no paradigm of social protection addresses easing rent. In this income bracket, rent must be considered as part of the basic entitlement package of social
    protection, like food, basic income and health. Roti, Kapda, lekin Makaan ka kya?
  4. How do we think of improvement in living conditions when over 95 percent of rentals do not
    have any legal or binding contract? There is a need to understand what form of a written agreement is appropriate to protect both tenants and landlords in specific informal rental housing arrangements.

What actions does the Union and the Report seek to drive?

  1. Driving the policy discussion towards trying pilots for rent support/subsidies
    a. Rent as part of a social protection entitlement package
    b. Specific scheme designed to improve rental for different types of informal workers
  2. Rental housing must be part of national housing missions and state public housing
    programmes – include new vertical/categories specific programmes on rental housing.
  3. The role of ULBs enhanced in implementation and financing strengthened and expanded.
  4. Consultation and Participation of worker organisations in design and implementation of these schemes.

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