Thursday, November 30, 2017

Upgrading Housing Settlement for Jakarta's Poor Residents

The number of urban population in Indonesia increased significantly from 101.3 million in 2000 to 137.6 million in 2015. This rapid urbanization has caused many problems including the lack of housing for the urban poor. Most poor residents of Indonesian major cities particularly Jakarta live in informal housing settlements. They live in self-built inappropriate houses and squatting in slums and squatter settlements. They are marginalized urban residents that push their way to occupy state land such as disposal sites, riverbanks, and railway tracks and private unoccupied land and illegally construct their dwellings. 

Kampung Deret in Petogogan, South Jakarta
Housing provision for the urban poor in informal housing settlements is also one of many agendas for Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan. During his campaign, Anies said he would not evict the residents in informal housing settlements and would instead build vertical and layered housing (rumah lapis) for them on their land. The idea of rumah lapis is not a new idea in the literature of upgrading housing settlement for the urban poor. To some extent, I would argue that the Rumah Lapis program is a replication of the Kampung Deret program that was initiated by then Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo in October 2013.
The Kampung Deret program replaced substandard, unsafe and unhealthy housing units in the Jakarta’s informal housing settlements with permanent housing units. The program gained considerable support from among the poor in Jakarta’s informal housing settlements. The program built nearly 4,500 permanent housing units for the urban poor in Jakarta in less than a year. Despite the support from the Jakarta’s urban poor, the Jakarta city administration discontinued the Kampung Deret program at the end of 2014, citing the lack of financial support from the Jakarta city council and the legal issue of the lands occupied by the urban poor.  
The idea of rumah lapis and kampung deret is rooted from John Turner’s seminal book Housing by People: Towards Autonomy in Building Environments. Turner (1977) argued that housing was not only a commodity but also a process or activity and the establishment of desirable housing standards was absurd. Slum clearance programs only moved substandard houses to new places particularly the urban periphery
There was no need to demolish slums because they were part of the solution. John Turner’s idea of “self-help” was used to implement the strategy of upgrading for improving and consolidating the existing homes of slum dwellers. He identified that perceived security of tenure would result in the progressive upgrading of slums through individual and community self-help. In situ upgrading represents an incremental improvement to the delivery of housing (Mistro and Hensher 2009). In situ upgrading aims to minimize the number of slum dwellers that are relocated to another site and it will reduce the extent of disruption to social and economic networks of slum dwellers.

Kampung Deret in Petogogan, South Jakarta in July 2015

                One of the primary requirements of the Kampung Deret program was the legality of land tenure. Dwellers of Jakarta’s kampungs needed to show the evidence of formal or semi-formal land tenure to be eligible for the Kampung Deret program. The Jakarta city administration would grant land titles to the Jakarta’s kampungs dwellers with informal land tenure if they had settled on the same portion of the land for more than 20 years. The Kampung Deret program assisted Jakarta’s kampung dwellers to obtain land titles and housing certificates. The Kampung Deret program received significant support from Jakarta’s kampung residents because the program offered them land titles.
The Jakarta city administration was able to give the kampung dwellers legal title to the lands they occupy in the first few cases of Kampung Deret program but they failed to sustain the effort due to the complicated process of land titling. The Kampung Deret program was finally discontinued because the Jakarta city administration was not able to identify kampung dwellers who occupy the land with legal land title.
The Jakarta city administration identified the location of the Kampung Deret program that set out to be a residential area by the Jakarta’s Spatial Plan 2030. The Jakarta’s Housing and Building Office identified at least 392 kampungs that could be considered slums but many of them were not qualified for the Kampung Deret program such as residents of Bukit Duri because their area was zoned as green areas by the Jakarta’s Spatial Plan 2030.
The planning process of the Kampung Deret program started with the collaboration between the neighborhood leaders and the city officials. The neighborhood leaders and the city officials identified the residents of the selected neighborhoods who meet the requirements of the Program. The priority was given to the residents who lived in detached semi-permanent houses on flood prone areas, unhealthy areas or very dense areas. The Jakarta city administration appointed the program consultants as the facilitator of the program. The program consultants were paid the Jakarta city administration.
The consultants were assigned to assist the beneficiaries in every stage of the Kampung Deret program. They were also assigned to mediate the design and housing construction process and work closely with the program beneficiaries. The program beneficiaries were responsible to find and rent a temporary place while their housings are being upgraded or built. The housing construction or upgrading process was about three months. The housing construction in the Kampung Deret program was efficient because the program used the standardized and fabricated building materials or popularly known as Rumah Instan Sederhana Sehat (RISHA).
Land tenure legalization is not a solution to the upgrading housing settlement for Jakarta’s kampung dwellers. It is not legal land title, but rather the perception of security of tenure that is most important for the sustainability of the Kampung Deret program. The security of land tenure can be given to Jakarta’s kampung dwellers by the tolerance and discretion of Jakarta’s spatial plan. The Jakarta’s spatial plan needs to integrate Jakarta’s kampungs into the formal and legal system. 
The approach of menata tanpa menggusur (upgrading without displacement) is the key ingredient of the Kampung Deret program. In situ upgrading was appealing to Jakarta’s kampung dwellers. In situ upgrading in the Kampung Deret program reduced disruptions to social and economic networks of the urban poor.
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan should develop the idea of Rumah Lapis program from the Kampung Deret program. The strengths and weaknesses of the Kampung Deret program that was implemented from October 2013 until the end of 2014 should be fully examined by the Jakarta city administration in developing the Rumah Lapis program. Upgrading housing settlement in Jakarta’s informal housing settlements also needs a broader development strategy to combat poverty and inequality. In order to be effective, the Rumah Lapis program or other upgrading housing settlement program must be incorporated into a community development strategy that addresses employment, transportation, education, health services and access to formal financial institution. 

(An edited version of this article appeared at The Jakarta Post on December 30, 2017)