News & Notes 660:ARA on housing – report

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660 icon.jpg   News & Notes 660
14 August 2016



ARA on housing - report


Last Wednesday 3rd of August 2016, there was an Active Residents Assembly (ARA) meeting on the topic of housing, with an emphasis upon providing housing for those with limited means. About 90 people came for the initial presentation, and about 60 remained to work intensively in small groups on the following questions:

  • What do you think are the most effective solutions to provide housing for those with limited resources in
a) the short-term (within one year)?
b) the longer-term?
  • What needs to happen to implement these solutions?

Many interesting ideas and proposals were made but the time was too short to explore them in detail.

A follow-up meeting to build upon these ideas and proposals is planned for
Monday, 22nd August, 3.30 pm, in Unity Pavilion.

For wider public discussion and as preparation for the next meeting, here are the notes of the small groups’ discussions. Bold text indicates that these points were prioritized by one or more of the eight groups.

Short-term solutions

1) Explore Foundation renting housing in villages for Newcomers, Aurovilians.

2) Make land immediately available for low-cost housing. Can include camping areas with adequate infrastructure to provide inexpensive living options.

3) Opening up existing communities for new housing development. ARA group to help cordinate a campaign to open up communities. Communities no longer to have full control over who lives there. We should take away present ‘ownership’ pattern of large plots. Individuals only have say within area around their house. Decisions about new housing can be taken by community along with L’Avenir, Land Board or FAMC. Also, stop communities discriminating against those with children, animals etc.

4) Make general survey of existing communities, how many acres, density per acre etc. Need for transparency in housing situation: all houses in Auroville and their present occupancy should be listed and made publicly available.

5) People with large houses should open up rooms for others / split up big homes. Younger ones providing help and assistance to elders. Identify unused homes and let Newcomers as well as Aurovilians in need stay there.

6) Change some guest houses/facilities into Newcomer housing.

7) L’Avenir must ‘green light’ low-cost housing and evolutionary housing

8) Allow Newcomers to build housing. Use energy of youth to let them build own houses with local materials. Make it a joyful collective activity.

Longer-term solutions

1) Make land available to build low-cost and other housing. Auroville needs two types of housing to provide both a short-term and long-term housing solution for up to 1000 people in the next 5 years: low-cost, studio types housing with shared facilities/ infrastructure for youths and for senior Aurovilians, and free-standing individual houses for families and individuals that have sufficient funds to build their own housing.

The communal housing for youth and seniors would be relatively high-density: we would only need about 6 acres of land to accommodate up to 500 people. To provide space for another 500 free-standing houses with some private space, we would need another 200 acres of land, bringing the total to 206 acres for about 1000 new housing units.
It should be possible to find the 206 acres that are required within the existing Residential Zone, so that it is not necessary to make temporary housing in other parts of the Master Plan. However, in order to make it possible for people to actually build there, the existing communities in this area would need to be willing to allow others to build near them.
Continue to reopen existing communities for low-cost housing. Change mind-set in communities; stimulate the sense of simplicity and fraternity we had in the early days.
Designate areas for low-cost and experimental housing (Can be mix of different housing: tents, demountable etc.). Provide infrastructure on this land.
Free some land in danger of encroachment for various forms of residential development, temporary and permanent. Provide infrastructure.

2) Need for strategic planning to tackle present needs and means of Aurovilians and Newcomers. Galaxy should be developed taking into account present needs for housing. L’Avenir sends request for proposals to Auroville architects for new projects. Then community decides. Community decides upon planning priorities based on present needs assessment.

3) Create an Architects Service linked with TDC to organize the building of housing, with focus on the need of the people who are coming into Auroville. All architects or contractors who wish to build housing or other building projects must be part of this Service.

Create pool of architects and ask them to work on low-cost housing projects (like Aspiration). Once land identified, cluster architects and others to implement the community. Also allow Aurovilians to build own homes.

4) Special task group created to find money, possibilities for those with brilliant ideas, linking together all groups involved. Individuals can go there for help with planning, design. Provide systemic support for innovative housing ideas.

Institution created to research into sustainable and healthy housing. It should also provide a service to help engineers/builders/architects. Those with the skills can teach others how to construct ecologically and at low-cost.

5) Reduce housing costs. No longer use market pricing. Don’t allow re-selling of houses which have already been paid for.

Central purchasing service for materials to bring down cost and control quality. Central go-down where stored, can be used by all Auroville builders. Free store for building materials and tools.
Allow renting. Also allow mortgaging as option.
Allow self-build housing to keep down cost.

6) Explore different ways of financing housing.

Estimated that 150 crores needed in next 5 years to provide short and long-term housing for up to 1000 people. Can come from increased GoI grant for housing. Should be able to get 100 crores from this source over next five years if the grants are properly utilized. The other 50 crores can come from private individuals who want a more luxurious house with space around.
Those building expensive housing (i.e. 50 lakhs plus) must donate up to the same amount to create housing for others.
Another option: create cooperative or dedicated housing fund. People make monthly contribution, say adults pay Rs 500 a month, into a housing fund to finance more housing.
Also, dedicated fund-raising for housing and/or make long-term loans available.
Units to make specific contribution for housing. Required to pay extra % of profits towards housing.
Create Revolving Fund to allow housing projects to continue.
Co-operative housing projects.


The Organization Research Group (ORG)

(The meeting’s Screen Presentation is on Auronet - [...])