Urbanization, poverty and homelessness are interconnected. Homelessness entails more than lack of brick and blanket. It is a kind of social evil – far bigger than statistics can arrest. Family breakdowns, marital difficulties, under-and-un-employment, old age, addiction, morbidity and stress come along. Pakistan is the fastest urbanizing country in South Asia; implying fastest homelessness in the region. Refugees’ influx, rampant rural poverty and anti-terror-operations caused displacement, intensifying the problem further. Hence, unplanned urban slums, squatters and shanty towns are bulging around. It means more and more housing – including sewerage, sanitation and water – for the middle and poorer sections of society are desired. Only in Karachi, about 40% of the population is cuddled in slums. Approximately, over 700,000 new housing units are required every year, out of which 60% for lower-income communities, 27% for lower-middle-income and 13% for higher and upper-middle-income classes while, reportedly, there is a backlog of almost 8 to 9 million units but only 250,000 come to exist in a year. In the last 2 decades, the demand has even multiplied by condensed urban settlements. Despite subsequent governments’ bragging to provide low-cost housing to the poor, the problem has grown ever bigger. Housing for the poor has been PTI’s campaign drive to be voted to power. 50,000 in its first phase but eventually 5 million houses to accommodate 10 million people are intended to be constructed by the end of its term, claims the incumbent government. The estimated Rs 6 Trillion is a phenomenal amount to be arranged for a country with the budgetary deficit of almost half the amount. At the moment, no single company – including the Chinese ones – is willing to invest all the bucks needed. In-fact the phoenix of PTI’s Naya Pakistan’s Housing Scheme took birth from PMLN’s Apna Ghar Scheme. The former also holds its genealogical connection with the now-dead promises of PPP’s roti, kapra or makan. Save a meager facility of one or two rooms and that too in Khairpur, Sindh alone, the initiative could hardly succeed in other parts of the country. Approximately, over 700,000 new housing units are required every year, out of which 60% is for lower-income communities, 27% for lower-middle-income and 13% for higher and upper-middle income; reportedly, there is a backlog of almost 8 to 9 million units but only 250,000 are added in a year If at all, all such housing schemes are meant to assist the middle, lower-and-upper middle class and exclude homeless and the poor. Lack of housing and poor regulation prompts illegal housing societies, real estate businesses, encroachments, occupations, land-gabbing and illegalities. Informal settlements erupt here and there. Real-estate traders roar at the cost of agri-lands, orchards, parks, university premises, picturesque hills, forests and water bodies. Unlawful housing societies and residential schemes flourish, mainly in all metropolises of the country. Development authorities lack enforcement mechanism to crack down on duplicitous housing societies. More than often magistrates and local police prove non-cooperative. Purchase, transfer or conversion of land for new housing societies is usually opaque. NAB too is of the opinion that, ‘no land-grab takes place without collusion of bureaucracy and the backing of powerful lobbies’. Though certain administrative and policy measures are being taken to civilize and regulate housing and housing amenities but visible progress is yet to be seen. In the absence of alternative measures for the poor and homeless, whichever government demolishes make-shift suburbs, massive protests pop up. Thus, acknowledging their right to housing is the first step to begin with. ‘Urbanization – read the rising demand for housing – is neither a crisis nor a tragedy; it’s a challenge for future,’ said the brainy Dr. Mahboob-ul-Haq. Let us accept that affordable housing crisis is irreversible and constitutes an eminent instance of both government and market failure. The phenomenon requires unusual devotion to overcome challenges. Decades of experimentation shows that housing yields benefits when constructed in urban or semi-urban areas. Provinces need to study homelessness, devise housing plans for those living in urban and peri-urban suburbs, around railway tracks, under the bridges and for those nomadically moving or squattering place to place. Livelihood opportunities closer-by are as important for the homeless as is the home itself. Land and housing appraisal-cum-housing need assessment and identifying appropriate localities system be introduced. District development authorities in each district should be authorized to approve, disapprove and regularize housing schemes. Societies not addressing technical, environmental and civic necessities, must not be approved. Political influence should be immediately done away with. Housing Price and Access Index should be adopted and introduced by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. Social, innovative and community housing or permanent rental-contract methods assisted by specific finance institutions to house the poor may help. Employing modern technology to build cheaper, quicker and greener houses is also a possible way out. Engaging NGOs and private sector, transforming the need into social entrepreneurship, utility-billing on consumption basis and discouraging large profiteering may potentially change the way housing is perceived and dealt in our country. Otherwise housing and homelessness shall remain a revolving door syndrome – costing the state anyway for other liabilities to fulfill. Precisely, there is a need to put head and heart together to provide home to the poor and the vulnerable with compassion and dignity. Homelessness too is a violation of basic human rights that breeds other violations. The author heads the ‘Institute of Development Research & Corresponding Capabilities, Islamabad Published in Daily Times, January 28th 2019.