AN OVERVIEW OF THE MAIN PRINCIPLES UNDERLYING HOUSING POLICY IN TURKEY
In countries like Turkey, where the pace of population increase and migration from rural areas has been very high and consequently urbanization process has been experienced in a short time span, demand for urban land and housing rises to a very high level. Particularly for the low and middle-income groups, the question of acquiring houses in a liveable and planned environment has reached high levels. Similar to the situation faced in almost all developing countries, making adequate shelter available, accessible and affordable to meet the housing need for the ever-increasing populations of the urban settlements has always been and remains to be a challenge for Turkey. In such a framework, social housing becomes one of the most significant issues of Turkey.
The political and administrative context for housing policy and their main principles are inevitably shaped by the housing and urbanization questions of the country.
After the Second World War, Turkey entered a period of rapid population growth. While there has been a slowdown in population growth, Turkey is still one of the most rapidly urbanizing countries in the world.
The rapid and uneven spatial growth within and among cities was largely a result of migration from rural areas where population declined in absolute numbers during the 80's. Large cities such as Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir received the "lion's portion" from the huge waves of rural-to-urban migration. While this trend still continues and there has been concentration of settlements in coastal regions, recent data indicate that other medium and large sized cities in Anatolia are also experiencing rapid urban growth.
This uneven spatial growth led to uneven distribution of resources and the necessity for increased amounts of investment in physical infrastructure to overcome inequalities. It also conflicts with both the sustainability and liveability of those areas. In many cities, especially those receiving excessive migration, the rate of housing construction has not been able to match the rate of population increase, and this has given rise to unauthorized housing construction. Affordability is also another major issue for a large number of households who do not have the means to purchase and/or rent housing units within the legal housing stock. Many end up settling in unauthorized squatter (gecekondu) bringing along many problems like urban exclusion, urban poverty, and degradation of the urban environment and the loss of natural resources.
Facing with growing numbers of unauthorized construction, tenure security and tenure quality have also become the major issues in the housing sector. Poor accessibility to infrastructure systems and to basic services as well as hubs of the city as centres for employment opportunities emerge as other problematic issues in housing.
Making adequate shelter available and accessible to meet the housing requirements of the ever-increasing populations of the urban settlements remains to be a challenge for Turkey since the needs and demands are diverse and the funds are limited.
In such an environment, several attempts have been made to solve the housing problems of the poor and problems of urbanization. In legal terms, housing right and sustainable urbanization has been defined in the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey, Article 57, as "The State shall take measures to meet the needs of housing within the framework of a plan which takes into account the characteristics of cities and environmental conditions and shall support mass housing projects."
In a similar manner, Article 56 of the Constitution states that; "every citizen has the right to live in a healthy and balanced environment".