In an important breakthrough for the rural homeless in Karnataka, the state government has improved eligibility for access to housing support programs for families who have plots of agricultural land but no house.

The change allows families to construct their house with assistance from the state on their agriculture land without needing to legally convert it to housing status – an expensive and time-consuming process.

Many more rural families will now be able to access housing programs thanks to this update by the Karnataka state government. The Karnataka team at Rural Development Institute (RDI), Landesa’s partner in India, had been lobbying for a change in the rule.

With its strategic focus on secure land titles and homestead land, RDI has been working closely with rural families, especially women, to improve delivery and access to homestead plots under government rural housing programs.

RDI came across a large number of rural families who had small pieces of land but no money to build homes. This spurred advocacy efforts to resolve this clause that stood as a barrier to arrive at a ‘win-win’ solution for the homeless families in need of homestead land.

Following meetings and conversations with officials, the department responsible for rural housing responded with a very supportive and positive approach. The announcement is a major advocacy breakthrough.

With the process being changed, delays in identifying and purchasing new land for house allocations will be reduced. For rural families, it’s a double gain as they will now be able to receive support for housing and also avoid the grind of raising money for the conversion process needed previously.