In the present epoch of urbanization and globalization, over one billion inhabitants of this planet are living in substandard housing involuntarily and more than 500 million people dwell in slums or shanty towns in Asia. Unfortunately, the number is multiplying because of unplanned urbanization. Pakistan alone has seen a 3 percent increase in urbanisation annually, which means that there is a shortage of 8 million houses. Homeless people are most vulnerable to the outbreak of disease, natural disasters, criminal activities and other social issues. As per the United Nations (UN), only 13 percent of cities in the world have affordable housing. However, Goal 11 of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)focuses on the importance of safe, resilient and sustainable human settlements for residents. The agenda is to upgrade shanty towns and slum areas through the provision of basic services by the year, 2030. Currently, no concrete steps are being taken to overcome this daunting challenge. Being signatory, it is the state’s responsibility to pay heed to this. Regrettably, night shelters followed by low cost affordable housing have never gained importance on legislation benches. Neighbouring countries like India and China, are working tirelessly to provide low cost housing and night shelters for footpath dwellers in metropolitan cities. It is time for the newly elected government to devise a strategy to provide shelters and affordable housing units. The government has announced that 5 million houses will be provided to the underprivileged segment of the country, however, the question is what steps will be taken to accomplish this daunting task. In my opinion, reforms involving all stakeholders are mandatory. Real estate actors, policy makers, planners, urban developers and others have a pivotal role to play and should be allowed to do so without any political barricades. For smooth implementation, malpractices must be castigated. The government should provide affordable housing by working on smart low cost housing models. Before investing, concerned departments should explore successful practices in developed and developing regions. One billion inhabitants of this planet involuntarily live in substandard housing. More than 500 million people dwell in slums or shanty towns in Asia. Unfortunately, this number is multiplying because of unplanned urbanisation Urban planners have argued that incremental or progressive development is the best available solution for low-income households, especially in the absence of institutional microfinance for affordable housing. John Turner, a British Architect, believed that the incremental housing model is ideal to address the needs of dwellers. It is evident from numerous studies that this model has its roots in developed and developing countries like the US, UK, Australia, Kenya, Chile, Sudan, Thailand, China and India. The incremental housing development model, sanctions the gradual development of the various components of a shelter; as per the availability of capital, resources and needs. In this inventive design model, households develop and construct a single room for habitation and gradually develop other components like the kitchen, auxiliary components and extra floors based on the availability of resources. A new idea which can be used in Pakistan is that of the ‘night shelter for the shelter-less’. The Night Shelter Scheme has proven to be very successful for the Indian National Government. New Delhi developed over 250 night shelters in different pockets of the city to house more than 20,000 footpath dwellers. Simultaneously, the government also launched cheap housing schemes for deserving people. Furthermore, the Delhi Government has also adopted an innovative way to provide cheap housing by converting their public transport buses into mobile night shelters. The buses are parked at public transport terminals to provide a place for shelter-less people to inhabit. In our context, local development authorities consider footpath dwellers as encroachers and a smut on the image of the city. Temporary shelters of these dwellers are considered illegal and are removed. There is no room for this group in our society as all privileges are limited to the upper crust. The prerogative of the champions who sit on legislation benches is to enjoy luxuries, which in turn burdens the public purse. The newly formed government should pay attention to the needs of the vulnerable segments of our society and develop a plan for affordable housing to combat poverty. The writer is a Research Associate at the Urban Sector Planning and Management Service Unit Lahore. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, September 1st 2018.