Alternatives to Home Ownership: Rental and Shared Sub-markets in Informal Settlements

© Marcelo Coccato, 1996


Abstract/ Résumé (see below)

Acknowledgments (see below)

Chapter 1 Introduction

Chapter 2 Informal housing markets: A review

Chapter 3 The field study

Chapter 4 The demand for rental and shared housing

Chapter 5 The alternatives to ownership

Chapter 6 The suppliers

Chapter 7 Tradeoffs at the lower end

Chapter 8 Conclusion



Boxes (case histories)

Appendix (a houses surveyed, b summary tables)


Most developing countries have based their housing strategies on ownership. Approaches they have adopted, such as sites and services or upgrading schemes, rely basically on ownership through self-help. Yet, most of these efforts have proved inadequate to cope with the increasing demand for urban housing. In this context, informal settlements seem to provide the cheapest and more affordable ownership options for the poor. Nevertheless, home ownership, even in its squatter form, demands time, investment, and long term commitment: a luxury that some households simply cannot afford. Based on qualitative research conducted in three low income barrios of informal origin, this study looks at the kind of non-ownership-oriented solutions available for the poor in Resistencia, capital of the province of Chaco in Northeast Argentina. On the demand side, findings suggest that for some households rental or shared housing is the only choice. For others, on the contrary, it seems to be a matter of preference, a way to avoid the chores of ownership. On the supply side, the study unveils a fairly wide spectrum of choices, with options ranging from a bed in a house to rooming houses of up to 15 rooms. While some of the landlords are relatively wealthy, others are just as poor, or poorer than their tenants. Rental and shared alternatives are far from being ideal housing solutions. Under certain conditions, however, they result in reasonable short-term options that, apart from generating extra income for small landlords, contribute to diversify the supply of cheap accommodation for poor households. (Chapter1)


La majorité des pays en voies de développement fondent leur politique de logement sur lacquisition comme mode doccupation. Que ce soient sous forme de sites et services ou de schémas de développements progressifs, les approches adoptées par les gouvernements dépendent essentiellement sur lacquisition dhabitations construites par les résidents eux-mêmes. Ce genre defforts nont cependant pas pu subvenir aux besoins toujours croissant en logements urbains. Vus sous cet angle, les sites à constructions illégales semblent offrir aux pauvres les options les plus abordables pour sapproprier une demeure. Il nen reste pas moins que la formule dacquisition, même au sein de terrains envahis illicitement, demande du temps, de linvestissement et un engagement à long terme. Basée sur un recherche qualitative menée dans trois quartiers pauvres de Resistencia (capitale provinciale au Nord Est de lArgentine), la présente étude se concentre sur les types d accomodations diponibles pour les pauvres, autre que par le biais de lacquisition. Du coté de la demande, les résultats suggèrent que, pour un nombre de familles, les seuls choix possibles sont ceux de la location et de la cohabitation. Pour dautres, au contraire, il semblerait que cest une question de préférence, une façon déviter les responsabilités dun achat. Du coté de loffre, létude découvre un éventail assez large doptions, qui varient du lit à lintérieure dune maison, à lauberge de quinze chambres. Quand au statut économique des propriétaires interrogés, certains dentre eux sont relativement aisés, alors que dautres sont aussi pauvres que leurs locataires, sinon plus. Létude trouve que les alternatives de lacquisition sont loin dêtres idéales. Néanmoins dans certaines conditions, elles représentent des accommodations viables à court terme, qui dune part, occasionnent un revenu supplémentaire aux petits propriétaires; et dautre part répondent, par leurs diversités, aux besoins changeants des familles pauvres. (Chapter1)

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This thesis has been possible thanks to the efforts and collaboration of numerous people and institutions. At risk of omitting some of them, I would like to mention some of the main contributors to this endeavor. Special thanks are due to:

Professor Vikram Bhatt, my thesis supervisor, for his guidance and friendly assistance.

Universidad Nacional del Nordeste, República Argentina, particularly to the Secretaría General de Ciencia y Técnica, for the funding given throughout this learning experience.

Ministerio de Educación (Secretaría de Cooperación Internacional), República Argentina, for their kindly support.

My fellow students and friends, especially to those who went through the trouble of reading and editing my text. All their suggestions have greatly improved the final outcome.

Ms. Marcia King, for all the invaluable assistance she provided me during my studies at McGill.

Mrs. Pretty Constanzó and Mr. Carlos Hess, for their helpful collaboration with the interviews and surveys, and for taking care of my affairs in Resistencia.

Above all to my wife Angelis, for her encouragement and support throughout these years. To her and our little dream came true, I dedicate this work.

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