Govt of India may soon pay rent for urban poor in 100 smart cities

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The Government of India is all set to roll out a Rs 2,700-crore welfare scheme in 100 smart cities to give rent vouchers to the urban poor.

The government would launch the new rental housing policy with the rent vouchers for below poverty line (BPL) families. Though the policy has been in the works for three years, the first component is likely to be rolled out in the 2017-18 financial year in the smart cities.

The scheme is expected to cost Rs 2,713 crore every year to implement in smart cities. Aimed directly at the urban poor and helping the migrant population, the scheme would involve the distribution of rent vouchers by urban local bodies.

The tenant would give these vouchers to the landowner, who in turn would be able to redeem them at any citizen service bureau. If the rent is higher than the value of rent voucher, the tenant would pay the difference in cash to the landowner.

The value of rent voucher would be determined by the urban local body on the basis of class or size of the dwelling unit and the prevalent rent in the city. The government is also exploring the option of direct benefit transfer in this voucher scheme. According to Census 2011, about 27.5% of urban residents lived in rented houses in 2011.