Monday, June 29, 2009

The Shelter, Land, and Urban Management (SLUM) Assistance Act of 2009

(Slum in India)

On March 25, Mr. Miller of North Carolina, Mr. Price of North Carolina, Mr. Castle, Mr. Hinchey, Mr. Ellison, Ms. Moore of Wisconsin and Mr. Jackson of Illinois introduced the ‘Shelter, Land, and Urban Management (SLUM) Assistance Act of 2009’ H.R. 1702. The bill was then referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Congress gathered statistics that resulted in the eventual drawing up of the bill. Some findings follow: approximately one billion people currently live in slums, and more than half of this population is under the age of 25. It is estimated that by 2030 the number of people living in slums, which are characterized by inadequate access to safe water, sanitation, and other essential infrastructure, overcrowding, poorly structured housing, and insecure residential and property ownership status, will double. Insecure lease and real property ownership tenure often subject slum dwellers to arbitrary, often supra-market rents, forced evictions, threats and harassment. In 2007 alone, approximately five million people were subject to forced evictions, and projections show that the number of forced evictions are likely to increase to between 40 million and 70 million in the next 20 years. Due to the insecurity of tenure, economic development is severely inhibited by undermining investment incentives and limiting the growth of credit markets. This jeopardizes the ability of families to achieve sustainable livelihoods and assured access to shelter, and often contributes to conflict over property rights.

Congress’ findings led to the creation of The Shelter, Land, and Urban Management (SLUM) Assistance Act of 2009, which would authorize assistance for affordable housing and sustainable urban development in developing nations. The bill directs the President, through the Secretary of State and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to develop a strategy to provide affordable housing and sustainable urban development in developing countries. Other sections of the bill authorize the President to provide technical assistance and financial support to developing countries for basic shelter and affordable housing, primarily for residents of impoverished urban areas; safe water, sanitation, and solid waste water removal services; real property use and ownership rights; and government urban planning.

-- Jaimie Hwang