Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Can the lower middle classes live successfully in high rise apartments?

In the second page of the FT of today, September 27th 2011, was a full paid advertisement by the UDA of the foundation to building 1300 new housing units for disadvantaged families in Mattakkuliya. For good measure there was a photo of Namal Rajapakse also which did not seem warranted, as there was not even a caption as to why his name was ignored or why his photo was included.

The serious issue I have is whether people of such a socio-economic background can comfortably live in such a high rise. The photos implied that some of the buildings exceeded 20floors. Therefore I do not know if people can successfully live if lifts are not maintained and common parts are left to decay and misuse. If this same experiment failed in countries such as the US and UK why do we think it will succeed in Sri Lanka where such dwellings are rare?

Can the government therefore justify this sort of expense, when even if experience is anything to go by even three or four floor flats have failed to yield positive results in successful living conditions.

I agree it is a dilemma faced by Colombo, as to how to house a minimum of 150,000 people in limited spaces, by removing shanties and dangerously constructed unauthorized dwellings. People do not want to me moved out and even 1km from their current places of abode are too much for them, so how do we house them in the same area they currently live in with better accommodation?

This vexing question really has not provided satisfactory answers, as someone would have to pay for this, and it would not be fair on others if the new accommodation is provided free, Inevitably they would have to eventually pay a market price for their lodgings over a long term type of loan. It is important that payment is part of the re housing as otherwise there will not be any effort made in ensuring their surroundings are kept clean and free of the normal inner city problems of drugs and violence.

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