Low-Cost Housing in Barbados: Evolution or Social Revolution?

Low-Cost Housing in Barbados: Evolution or Social Revolution?

Low-Cost Housing in Barbados: Evolution or Social Revolution?

Low-Cost Housing in Barbados: Evolution or Social Revolution?

Synopsis

The Barbados Tenantries Programme provides an example of what can take place when the state elects to intervene in low-income housing and to facilitate housing upgrading based on self-help principles and vernacular architectural forms. Watson and Potter's work provides the first ever empirical study of the plantation tenantries since the upgrading programme began in the 1980s, and examines contemporary housing conditions and rates of improvement on 150 tenantries.

Excerpt

Despite the existence of a well-developed academic discourse on the issue of self-help housing, relatively little attention has been paid to the importance of this type of shelter provision in the Caribbean. Indeed, few detailed empirical studies have been undertaken of housing in the Caribbean and the extent to which low-income households throughout the region capitalize upon their own 'sweat equity' in search of adequate shelter. the principal aim of this volume is to provide a detailed empirical examination of the low-income housing system in Barbados, focusing specifically on the relationship between the state and the poor. the book therefore provides an evaluation of the government's attempt to recognize the importance of self-help, upgrading and vernacular architecture in Barbados, and the first-ever empirical analysis of its Tenantries Programme which started in 1980. in assessing the island's formal housing market, the opportunities and constraints faced by low-income families in attempting to enter a system now characterized by a so-called benign state apparatus, and dominated by private sector institutions and external aid donors, are identified.

As part of the work, a range of field-based approaches, social survey techniques and ethnographic methods was used to appraise housing conditions, upgrading and development on the tenantries. Cartographic and statistical modes of analysis were then employed, in order to analyse the results of first-hand surveys encompassing over 3,500 individual dwellings. in conclusion, the volume assesses the future of Barbadian housing, and the implications of the nation's period of IMF-imposed structural adjustment. It is argued that the need for continued government intervention in low-income housing is critical, and that the state's acceptance of the self-help tradition in providing homes for the poor is of paramount importance if it is to remain a truly viable actor in the Barbadian housing system.

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