OVERVIEW

The housing deficit in urban India is estimated to be about 25 million. The Govt. of India with its ambitious Housing for All scheme aims to address this gap by 2022. Sanjaynagar, a slum in Ahmednagar city, is home to 298 families. Working alongside the community under the Housing for All scheme, we developed a redevelopment plan, to include development, design and construction, of eight G+2 buildings. The plan addresses the need for formal housing for these families, while also providing safe and adequate community spaces, preserving the strong social fabric and bonding of the community.

Percentage population of the world and India residing in urban slums

CONTEXT

The Sanjaynagar slum in Ahmednagar city is home to 22 different communities, making the social make up fairly unique for a neighbourhood of its kind. Spread over 2 acres, these communities have been living together since the first dwellers arrived here in the 1980s. Many of these communities belong to the Other Backward Communities (OBC) group and about 45% belong to the more disenfranchised categories.

Read below to learn more about the history of the neighbourhood and our work with them:

Aerial view of Sanjaynagar slum

Our Approach

The Leprosy affected people and their families were the first to be relocated to Sanjaynagar under a government scheme. The next large group to be relocated were families evicted from the Wadia Park area, a large gathering arena for the city. Over a period of two to three decades other families also moved here.

Similar to most slums, Sanjaynagar was set up on the fringes of the city. When the first group of people moved here, the swampy land was filled with weeds. It took a lot of creativity and resiliency on the part of the residents to convert this “unlivable” land into their home.

Consensus building

Over a period of 4 months, numerous gatherings were held with the residents of Sanjaynagar to facilitate consensus building among them. Sharing case studies of other community led redevelopment projects, and a visit to one such project in Bhuj, Gujarat were instrumental in helping the community understand how such a project could be realized.

Meeting with the residents in the early stages of the rehabilitation project

Formation of the Slum Committee

The residents of Sanjaynagar have elected 9 representatives to form a Slum Committee. The committee regularly liaises between the project implementing agencies and the residents of Sanjaynagar, proving to be key links in decision making processes.

Meeting with the residents in the early stages of the rehabilitation project

Community Representatives

Community Representatives, or CRs, are a team of youth leaders chosen from the community who work with the design, social and construction teams on numerous day to day tasks related to the project. Each of them are from one of the 8 buildings to be built in Sanjaynagar and engage with their respective housing societies on numerous administrative tasks.

Two women and a man sitting in front of a house and going over documents, while a child looks on
Community representatives visit every family to discuss the different stages of the rehabilitation process

Social Cohesion

While most housing projects of this kind tend to allot homes through a lottery, we worked with the residents to help them organize themselves into groups for each of the 8 buildings and help preserve the existing social fabric of the neighbourhood. Over several meetings, community members decided who would live where, and also elected office bearers to form cooperative housing societies of each of the 8 buildings. These office bearers work with the project team to manage project finances and monitor the process of construction. The societies will take on the maintenance and upkeep of the neighbourhood in the future.

People sitting on the floor around playing blocks
Participatory design process underway with the residents of a building

Designing homes with individual families

Families have the option of adding custom features to their housing units, based on their needs. Larger joint families that qualify for more than one unit also have the option of living next to each other and connecting homes by removing walls or building internal staircases. This will keep families together and build healthier intergenerational relationships.

Different layouts to meet the requirements of different types and sizes of families in Sanjaynagar

Social Infrastructure

In addition to customizable housing units, the neighbourhood is also being developed with ample social infrastructure to support the outdoor lifestyle of the community as well as to retain and further strengthen their existing social bonds. Widened corridors, shared terraces and thoughtfully designed courtyards are some of these features.

Digital visualisation of a courtyard, with children playing and people sitting around, surrounded by buildings on two sides
Visualisation of the courtyard in front of a building in Sanjaynagar

Participation of Housing Cooperatives in the construction of their building

Construction of Phase 1 of the project, the first building of 33 homes is currently underway. The Swapnapurti Cooperative Housing Society formed by the to-be residents of these 33 homes actively participate in managing construction funds and monitoring construction quality. Similar participatory mechanisms will be set up for construction of the remaining 7 buildings in Phase 2.

View of a construction site of a building and a worker building the staircase
Ongoing construction work at Sanjaynagar

Financial model for the project

The Sanjaynagar project has diverse sources of funding, with a part of it from the Govt. of India’s Housing for All scheme, the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. The slum is located on land belonging to the Ahmednagar Municipal Corporation. Home owners are also contributing towards the cost of construction of their homes. The Curry Stone Foundation is supporting the cost of all technical and design services, and part of the cost of construction of each home. The gap in the cost of the project will be raised through philanthropic and CSR organizations.

Financial model for Sanjaynagar Rehabilitation project

Loan product for home owners’ contribution

As most banks and formal institutions of credit refused to lend to the residents of Sanjaynagar, we have designed an innovative peer to peer lent home loan product in partnership with Rang De, a social Non Banking Financial Company (NBFC). This low interest, unsecured loan allows the borrower to customise the sum borrowed, the tenure and the frequency of repayment as per their capacity. A strong financial literacy program and support for the community are part of the model to ensure timely repayments, the building of reliable credit scores and histories for the borrowers.

Community Representatives assist the home owners with the home loan process

Impact

The impacts of the Sanjaynagar project go beyond just addressing the need for safe and formal housing, seen in the leadership skills displayed by the young Community Representatives, the strong sense of ownership shown by the residents at every stage of the project, and the financial inclusion model that has given people outside the ambit of formal banking access to credit and support their dream to own a home. To study how improvements in living conditions can have an overall impact on the quality of life of the residents, a baseline health survey of the children of the community has been conducted. This will be followed by another survey of children of the same age group after 5 years.

Food distribution for the Sanjaynagar residents during the first COVID-19 lockdown

learnings

The Sanjaynagar Redevelopment project is also a learning experience for a young organization like ours. The team has encountered numerous unanticipated roadblocks and in responding to these, our thinking and processes have been repeatedly challenged and continue to evolve. From delays in construction due to incessant rains, to challenges faced by the community during the pandemic lockdown, navigating the year 2020 has been difficult for all our stakeholders across the board. The stories from our team on the ground will give you more real time insights into the evolution of this community-led redevelopment project.

Children of Sanjaynagar
  • Anandi Bazaar, Near Laxmi Karanja, Ahmednagar, Maharashtra 414001, India

Project Details

Year: 2018
Status: Ongoing
Location: Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, India
Size: 2.09 acres

Services: Design Research, Community Engagement, Participatory Design and Mapping, Public Space Design, Project Management, Financial Inclusion Mechanisms

Partners: Residents of Sanjaynagar slum, Snehalaya, Rang De, Ahmednagar Municipal Corporation, Housing for All/Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Urban, Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA)Hunnarshala Foundation (Concept Design and Detail Design for Swapnapurti Building/Cluster 6)

FIELD NOTES