micro Home Solutions is now mHS city lab
mHS CITY LAB is an interdisciplinary design think-thank working towards the creation of socially inclusive and resilient cities
With the ongoing rapid urbanisation, informal settlements are offering affordable housing to millions in Indian cities today, including new migrants looking for livelihood opportunities in urban centers.
Apart from the lack of basic services, these settlements suffer from poor quality construction which is often seismically unsafe. Since its inception in 2009, micro Home Solutions has been designing projects and services to catalyze the incremental construction in these settlements. A particular focus has been on how to provide access to technical assistance for facilitating the process of self-construction in these communities.
Registered as mHS CITY LAB in 2013, mHS continues its committment to improve the quality of informal housing in Indian cities.
mHS theory of change is that appropriately designed technical training modules and customized inputs offered to masons can positively influence the quality of the buildings, especially in low-income communities. The insights and encouraging feedbacks gained from our research and pilots are at the base of the new project that targets low-income masons and homeowners. The strategy for outreach is to leverage the diffusion of affordable mobile devices and Internet access amongst low-income communities in India, adopting the new technology to provide a service able to promote a behavior change within the construction ecosystem.
mHS City Lab continues its engagement with the homeless communities with the goal to influence the policy and provide practical solutions that could allievate the life of the millions of homeless in Indian urban centers. One milestone of this activity is the 100 Shelters campaign that will see the production and distribution of 100 tents to homeless families in Delhi
Smaller cities and towns in India don’t receive the necessary attention when we think of rapid urbanization in India. We studied the opportunity to improve housing and living conditions in the informal settlements of Ranchi – an engagement with SEWA MHT and Oak Foundation, UK.
Key words: Rajiv Awas Yojana, tribal settlements, livelihoods, sanitation, finance
mHS is collaborating with Ashoka Housing for All to develop an affordable housing ratings system. The multi-pronged system, which assesses low-income housing on the basis of affordability, community, construction quality, and sustainability, will give low-income communities a tool for making housing decisions, and also provide critical knowledge of an underserved and misunderstood market to developers seeking to enter the affordable housing space.
mHS conceptualized DHS to bring construction finance and technical assistance to households. In partnership with BASIX-BSFL, a microfinance institution, the product reached 15 families with 2-storey construction. The technical assistance ensured structural safety, better ventilation, cost estimates, and monitoring assistance to those living in highly precarious structures.
We undertook a study for the World Bank to assess quality and quantity of self-/incremental construction in India. We designed a typology framework across settlements with a variety of average household incomes, tenure/titles, and land-uses to bring analytical rigor to evaluate the opportunity of providing housing finance to households in such neighborhoods.
There are anywhere between 5-8 million homeless people in urban India. The majority of these are daily wage labourers unable to afford rental units in the slums. In partnership with a local NGO, mHS designed and constructed two modular shelters to accommodate about 150 persons per night. The project serves as a scalable model for providing sustainable, cost-effective housing to urban India's most vulnerable population.