Housing and Finances for the Poor: Focus Note

How do poor households accquire houses?
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This Focus Note brings together evidence from South African, Bangladeshi and Indian Financial Diaries on how poor families acquire houses. Areas in the South African study include an urban township, a village and a peri-urban township.

Acquiring housing is an important goal for most households, and the poor are no exception. Findings include:

  • Housing is a key focus of borrowing and saving among Financial Diaries households in Bangladesh, India and South Africa;
  • About 13 percent of significantly sized borrowed or saved amounts were used for housing among the South African Financial Diaries households;
  • Many Financial Diaries households acquired their homes through borrowing and saving and also by incrementally buying building supplies;
  • Incremental spending on housing was a key feature of spending throughout the year;
  • Amount spent on housing was about 5 percent of monthly income in South Africa.

The paper demonstrates that poor households in different countries have the focus and ability to build housing assets through borrowing, saving and incremental spending.

About this Publication

By Collins, D.