Reducing Urban Poverty Graduate Student Paper Competition

"Refugees, Incremental Housing and Shelter in the 21st Century"

SIGUS researchers Valeria Vidal, Sera Tolgay and Francis Goys won an Aga Khan Foundation travel grant to undertake research in Amman, Jordan this past summer. The lack of adequate and affordable rental housing stock to accommodate an increasing number of Syrian refugees has put a strain on the capacity of cities in Northern Jordan such as Jerash, Ajloun, and Irbid. The research examined the post-implementation impact of the incremental housing model of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) Urban Shelter Program for assisting refugees in urban settings. The program provides financial assistance for house expansions and finishing to homeowners in exchange for rent-free accommodation to Syrian refugee families. Through surveys with participant homeowners, semi-structured interviews with NRC and UNHCR officers, and mapping of social and public infrastructure, we have found that the Urban Shelter Program increases the total housing stock available in Northern Jordan cities, improves building standards and material quality, and supports the local economy. As opposed to cash-for-rent programs that can add pressure to constricted housing markets, NRC‘s approach provides adequate shelter for refugees without disrupting existing urban systems. A comprehensive report was written and chosen to pass the final round of the Reducing Urban Poverty Graduate Student Paper Competition co-sponsored by Cities Alliance, IHC - Global Coalition for Inclusive Housing and Sustainable Cities, USAID, the Wilson Center, and the World Bank.