Parsis lead the way on charity housing

The city’s biggest private landlord, the Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP), on Tuesday explained how it had fixed a monthly income of Rs 90,000 as the upper eligibility limit for getting new community flats in Panthaky Baug in Andheri (E).

Published in the Times Of India

“These flats are available for Rs 20 lakh each. The trustees decided that only those earning a minimum Rs 25,000 to Rs 90,000 a month would be able to afford the outgoings and loan repayments,” BPP chairman Dinshaw Mehta said. “We realized that anyone earning less than Rs 25,000 a month will not be able to afford these flats.” The Rs-90,000 limit was not a general definition of poverty, he said.

Young Parsi couples who plan to marry are being given first preference to buy the Panthaky Baug flats, the BPP said.

The punchayet controls 5,500 flats between Colaba in south Mumbai and Jogeshwari in the western suburbs. In a city of more than 12 million people, Zoroastrians number 45,000, of whom 15,000 reside in punchayat flats.

Despite the widely-held belief that the community is affluent, there is an underprivileged section, members of which lead a hand-to-mouth existence and depend on monthly doles and food rations from Parsi charities and trusts.

The BPP said underprivileged community members were already being provided charity flats at low rents. These flats are only allotted to those earning Rs 5,000-50,000 a month. The rents are Rs 500-5,000 a month.

The BPP has three categories of flats, said Mehta. The first are for low-income people and have low rents. Flats in the second category are allotted after the payment of refundable deposits.

Occupants are allowed to encash the tenancy if they want to sell it to another community member; 50% of the sale proceeds are retained by the seller and the rest goes to the BPP.

The third category comprises ownership flats, allotted mainly to those who can afford to pay a deposit of more than Rs 1 crore. Spacious apartments in Cusrow Baug, Colaba, for instance, have fetched the BPP up to Rs 5 crore.

The BPP, which in the past has been accused of manipulating the merit-rating system while allotting flats, said its cross-subsidy scheme is the only way it can raise money to build more houses for low-income community members.