Centre may pay rent for urban poor in 100 smart cities: report

The Narendra Modi government has proposed a Rs2,700-crore welfare scheme for urban poor, under which the government will provide rent for the eligible people in the 100 smart cities.

The government will issue rent vouchers for those below poverty line in these 100 smart cities, says a report in The Economic Times. The scheme is proposed to be implemented through urban local bodies, the report said.

Alternatively, if found feasible, direct benefit transfer scheme could also be utilised to implement the scheme, says the report, adding that the scheme is likely to be rolled out in the 2017-2018 financial year.

The urban local body will decide the value of the rent voucher depending on the prevailing rent in the city as well as the size of the dwelling unit. The tenant would provide the voucher to the landlord who could then redeem the rent amount at any citizen service bureau or recover the difference if the rent is higher.

Direct benefit transfer could also be used instead of the voucher scheme, which is expected to complement Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Housing for All' scheme.

The government could also be using confiscated benami properties for providing affordable rental housing. An enabling provision in the Benami Properties Act would provide for using these as rental property, instead of auctioning them, says the report.

The confiscated houses "could be let out by the central government or through state governments as rental housing for the middle income group (MIG), LIG and economically weaker section (EWS) depending on the suitability and location of such properties," the report quoted an official of the ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation as saying.