Habitat International 31 (2007) 143–149
The search for policies to support sustainable housing
Charles L. Choguill
King Saud University, College of Architecture and Planning, P.O. Box 57448, Riyadh 11574, Saudi Arabia
Housing policies have passed through many permutations in the last 50 years, based on differing, even conﬂicting,approaches that, if we were totally truthful, have not really solved the housing problems faced by the majority of theworld’s population. For most people, remembering that over half the world’s population subsists on less than $2 per day,the challenge of housing is a simple one: the need for a healthy shelter at an affordable price. In recent years, the concept of sustainability has become central not just in housing policy, but in the consideration of human settlements, employment,infrastructure, transportation and urban services. In fact, the concept of sustainability may be one of the most overusedand misunderstood urban policy component in use today.This paper attempts to clarify the concept of sustainability, leading to what is hopefully an operational deﬁnition thatcan be used to measure progress toward this desirable state. The ideas developed are then applied to the ﬁeld of housingpolicies, that is, the guidance that governments can give to housing providers, whether they be commercial, public or self-builders, placing housing activity within the overall framework of the sustainability of human settlements and national andinternational economic activity. In the course of this discussion, certain criteria for sustainability will emerge, including theneed for poverty reduction and slum eradication, as well as the broader goal of environmental preservation and theimportance of developing channels for making viable ﬁnance available. Of course, without improvements in employmentopportunity and incomes, whatever is done within the housing policy area is likely to lead to disappointing results.
2006 Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Developing countries; Housing policy; Poverty; Slums; Sustainability
In 1948, 57 years ago, the United Nations, in its Universal Declaration of Human Rights, stated that‘everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of hisfamily, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services
’(United Nations,1948, Article 25).In 1966, nearly 40 years ago, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the International Covenant onEconomic, Social and Cultural Rights, including Article 11(1) which provides recognition of the ‘right of
ARTICLE IN PRESS
This editorial is a somewhat revised version of a keynote address presented at the International Conference on Sustainable Housing2006, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, 18–19 September 2006.