The central government may now pay the rent for urban poor through Rs 2,700-crore welfare scheme in 100 smart cities which will give rent vouchers to the urban poor.

Families below poverty line (BPL) will get rent vouchers from the government under the “to be launched rental housing policy”. Though the policy is being worked upon for three years, the first component is likely to be rolled out in 2017-18 financial year in the smart cities.

The scheme is expected to cost Rs 2,713 crore every year to implement in smart cities. Aimed directly at the urban poor, the scheme will help the migrant population, which would involve the distribution of rent vouchers by urban local bodies.

The tenant would pay the landowner through these vouchers, who in turn would be able to redeem them at any citizen service bureau. If the rent is higher than the value of rent voucher, the tenant will pay the difference in cash to the landowner.

The urban local body would determine the value of rent voucher by class or size of the dwelling unit and the prevalent rent in the city. The government is also exploring the option of direct benefit transfer in this voucher scheme. According to Census 2011, about 27.5% of urban residents lived in rented houses in 2011.

However, National Sample Survey (NSS) found that around 35% of urban households lived on rent in 2009. Moreover, according to NSS this proportion has remained steady since 1991. A senior official of housing and urban poverty alleviation ministry said, “The rental voucher scheme is being looked at as a means to complement the Prime Minister Housing for All scheme.”

The government would also monetize the confiscated benami properties for construction of affordable homes to address the housing shortage.

The ministry would now prepare a Cabinet note to push the rental voucher scheme. The move comes close to a recommendation by a group of secretaries of health, sanitation and urban development formed by Prime Minister.

Source: Economic Times

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