Improving Housing for Urban Poor: Learnings from BLC Implementation in Kerala

Aparna Das, Anindita Mukherjee, Baisakhi Sarkar Dhar, Dr. Sudeshna Chatterjee, Arushi Gupta, Aastha Jain

Academic and Action Research


The Government of Kerala dovetailed its state housing programme with the national scheme of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana in 2015 to realise the vision for ‘Housing for All’. The State Poverty Eradication Mission of the Government of Kerala, or Kudumbashree, is the state-level nodal agency for implementing the scheme in Kerala. The PMAY (U) is converged with the LIFE Mission (Livelihood, Inclusion and Financial Empowerment), the comprehensive housing scheme of the Kerala government, and is implemented as PMAY (U)-LIFE.

In Kerala, the PMAY’s Beneficiary-led Individual House Construction or Enhancement (BLC) vertical emerged as the most preferred vertical, owing to an increased subsidy outlay by the Government of Kerala. Further, recognising the lack of state-owned land as a significant hindrance to the uptake of the BLC scheme, the state government converged the implementation of the BLC scheme with the third phase of the LIFE Mission in 2017. This convergence provided an additional subsidy to the landless households to purchase private land, thereby enabling their inclusion under the ambit of the BLC scheme in the state.

This report is based on a primary assessment of the state of habitat improvement in Kerala, under the ambit of PMAY (U)-LIFE, through a quantitative household survey in three cities of Kerala – Kochi, Trivandrum and Mukkam. It finds that the State’s interventions towards the Housing for All agenda have underscored the importance attributed to the landless and the homeless in the state, rather than slum dwellers exclusively. The State’s interventions have also successfully demonstrated an approach towards enabling livelihoods through housing and imbibing financial empowerment among women.

While the Kerala model has exhibited various successful interventions to achieve a higher uptake of the BLC under PMAY, Kerala now needs to focus on adopting a city-wide, inclusive spatial planning approach. This report concludes by advocating for the provision of allied basic civic infrastructure across the new and existing housing in the state and for a spatial integration of the beneficiaries, to ensure habitat improvement.