Topic Guide: Provision and improvement of housing for the poor


This Topic Guide presents evidence and analysis of the methodologies for the provision of housing for the poor in order to stimulate the reader’s ideas about what housing is and what it can do, and to help inform approaches to housing provision and improvement. The Guide is written to appeal to those who are new to the topic (a glossary of key terms is given at the end of the Guide), and those who are already familiar with housing issues, but are looking for up-to-date evidence (and an understanding of evidence gaps) to remain informed about current debates.

The Topic Guide has an urban orientation, which reflects current practices and debates on housing for the poor in the global South. It explores issues of access to housing, the delivery of housing and its wider implications at the neighbourhood, city and national scale. Such implications include the intended and unintended outcomes and consequences of housing interventions. The Guide also draws inferences about and speaks to the international scale in discussions of policy. Locating the provision of housing for the poor at differing scales helps to identify the different actors involved, the sphere of politics concerned and the horizontal and vertical interlinkages between actors and political spheres; such knowledge is essential for strategizing housing interventions.

The Topic Guide is not intended to be a one-stop reference for all housing issues that concern the poor. Rather, having identified salient interrelated topics that concern the access, delivery and the implications of housing for the poor, the Guide presents an overview of key academic and policy debates and some examples of housing provision that inform the debate. Towards the end of the Guide, suggestions for policy makers, practitioners and researchers to improve provision of housing for the poor are given. Although topics are interrelated, each section (one topic – one section) can be read alone.

This peer reviewed Topic Guide has been produced by the Development Planning Unit at University College London (UCL) with the assistance of the UK Department for International Development (DFID) contracted through the Climate, Environment, Infrastructure and Livelihoods Professional Evidence and Applied Knowledge Services (CEIL PEAKS) programme, jointly managed by HTSPE Limited and IMC Worldwide Limited.


Patel, K. Topic Guide: Provision and improvement of housing for the poor. Evidence on Demand, UK (2013) 63 pp. [DOI:]

Topic Guide: Provision and improvement of housing for the poor

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