The fate of million housing units projects! مصير المليون وحدة سكنية!

  An Inforgraphic by  EIPR about Social Housing Project in Egypt during four ruling periodsبالأرقام  قصة المليون_وحدة عبر أربع فترات من الحكم مصر الإسكان_الاجتماعي 
Recently I have been a part of a Wohnungsfrage Academy: The Housing System organized and hosted by the The Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) in Berlin. During one of the public lectures that followed the daily academy activities one was presented by Thordis Arrhenius she spoke about The Million Programme (Swedish: Miljonprogrammet) which is the common name for an ambitious public housing programme implemented in Sweden between 1965 and 1974 by the governing Swedish Social Democratic Party to make sure everyone could have a home at a reasonable price. The aim was to construct a million new dwellings during the programme's ten-year period.

C. P. Zilliacus tells us the story of this ambitious program.  It was approved by Sweden’s Parliament in 1965 to remedy what was then considered an acute shortage of housing. Planners and architects felt that in order to achieve the desired suburban “new town” environment, development and densities were to be as concentrated as possible, and all units were to be within 500 meters of the transit station. 

Tensta housing photo by Wikimedia Commons user Holger.Ellgaard.

Zilliacus tells us that the first new homes in Tensta were delivered to their initial residents in 1967, only two years after the program was approved. but the subway line, so important to the design and development of these communities, was not to be opened to traffic until 1975. 

In a 2009 and after almost 42 years, Sweden’s Minister of Integration, Nyamko Sabuni charged that some of the Million Programme complexes led to “exclusion” of their residents and since many of them are badly in need of thorough renovation, some should be torn down instead. Indeed some of these complexes have met their demise with the use of a wrecking ball.

Zilliacus sees that the aftermath of Million Programme demonstrates the inability of elected officials and the planners and architects on their staffs to anticipate the future needs and even the demographic makeup of their constituent populations, even in a democratic nation such as Sweden. 

Although the subway system was an integral part in the development of the million programme, it has not prevented the isolation and economic disadvantage that the minorities living along the line have always experienced. 

This story reminded me of our famous million programme that was announced by General Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, before resigning as Egypt’s minister of defense and pursuing his campaign for the presidency, were he announced an agreement with the UAE construction firm Arabtec to build a million affordable homes for “Egyptian youth.”

Maria Golia reminds us that this was not the first time for this project to be announced The Social Housing Project (SHP), initiated in 2011 by then Minister of Housing Mohamed Fathy el-Baradei, promised a million units for low income households. He also confirmed that the ministry is responsible to deliver this project within five years!
Our 'ambitious' million programme seems to be similar to the Swedish Miljonprogrammet except for just few differences. First, it is not yet built although almost 4 years passed since it was announced. As the infographic shows,  since 2011 till 2015 only 57 unit were really delivered! Second, most of these units are far away in the desert with no connection whatsoever the city centers they are near to, except for informal transportation! Last but not least, these new housing complexes are intended from the start to house the marginalized sector of the community relocated from the high economic value city core.

So I wonder what will be the fate of our million programme?!

Maybe the answer came sooner than we all expected!

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The people from the barrio built the city twice: during the day we built the houses of the well-off. At night and at weekends, with solidarity, we built our own homes, our barrio.

  —Andrés Antillano, resident of Caracas, April 15, 2004