Thursday, June 25, 2009

Will Flats Exacerbate the Crime Rate?

Studies focusing on communities with public housing units have consistently found that these communities have higher rates of violence and victimization as compared to similar areas without public housing.* Further, public housing estates in Britain, the United States, and Australia are frequently plagued by crime problems.** Experience in the Maldives in relation to tsunami temporary housing and Sinamale also corroborates this, though no formal research has been done. This raises questions about the advisability of going for public housing such as flats, especially in a country already plagued by rising crime rates.

In nearly all islands with mass tsunami housing, be it Hulhudhuffaaru, Ungoofaaru or Bruruni, rifts developed between the immigrants and the local communities because of high crime rates among immigrant youth. And yet, the same youth were innocent young men before they moved into public housing and got involved in drugs.

Sinamale in the capital is a hotbed of crime, where drug deals are made openly. Under-age kids who work in regular shift duties to peddle drugs have become so rich that many of them drive battery cycles (too young to get license).

Considering these facts, how advisable is it to build more flats in Male and other crowded islands? This is an issue policy makers need to ponder.





Anonymous said...

You reap what you sew.

If Male is designed like a slum, it will become one. And it has become one.

Faisal said...

Its not that simple. It's not flats leading to violence, in most cases the most marginalised in society end up in state housing, with low income families and unemployed and disgruntled youth. Such an environment is rife for violent and antisocial behaviour.

Yaamyn said...

In the islands, perhaps. But in the case of Male, the entire island is just a glorified slum - and there' no place that's particularly 'safe' or 'crime-free'.

I think it's about time some proposal was made to demolish the large areas of Galolhu and Maafannu where tiny, single room 'houses' abound..

The blocks could be recovered and built into efficient housing areas - with more open green space.

Ahmed said...

I live in a flat. i have seen groups form and develop literally around me. Kids when they come out of thier flats have to come down to the same compound where they hang around and become freinds with each other. first they are innocent. Then smoking comes and finally drugs. Soon a dealer comes and employs them.

The stair wells of most flats don't have lights. They are broken by the parteys, who use those places for thier activities. From their they have easy acess to flats. thefts are common.

Anonymous said...

Faisal, I agree with you that the type of people who get flats are deprived and anti-social. But at the same time we must realise that such people's tendency for crime increases when more similar minded people are concentrated in one area.

Anonymous said...

As anon number 1 said Male is a slum. it will be subject to all crimes in a slum. this must be kept in mind when deveoping Hulhumale.

Cheap housing for the poor could turn costly in social terms.

007 said...

Yaameen’s idea of demolishing the slum areas and redeveloping them as good quality housing is excellent. But I wonder if this government has the will or capacity for such a massive task.

In developing those places the mistakes of Sinamale must be avoided. Thus instead of too many blocks crowding one area, few units must be built with a green belt around it. The access to that greenery will be controlled by residents. So there will be less tendency for dealers to move in.

Anonymous said...

Is it not time to impose driving license for battery cycle?

Yaamyn said...


I believe it's not the flats or the kids, but bad parenting that is responsible for kids taking to drugs.

Here in India, there is a huge demand for housing units.. and schoolkids gather together and get around on their bicycles and play in the parks together.

I don't see any drug epidemic in these parts.

Bad Parenting, poor law enforcement in tackling drugs (we all see drug deals being made in the open, don't we?) and the overcrowding in the capital which results in stressful living conditions are all to blame.

Children and youth need a stable, secure environment to grow up in. And an education.

Most of the drug users we see are uneducated and directionless - and mostly belong to broken families.

Issey said...

The area around flats must be made safe for kids to play. This is what is lacking in Male not only in flats bu also in other areas. all open spaces are occupied by partays.

Anonymous said...

What's the alternative to flats? Whole family living in one room? That will be worse.

One on One said...

Now Municipalty Adam Manik (the father of you know who) is making parks in the spaces allocated by Anni for flats. So no more flats in Male.

Anonymous said...

With better surveilance, policing, security cameras, gate control to the compound etc. crime can be controlled in flats.

Anonymous said...

Why can't the flat people form a 'Resident's Association' and look after the security of the area. Why do they have depend on police for everything? This is ridiculous. The truth is everybody is lazy. Everyone does nothing but blame government.

Anonymous said...

Great piece....hope this reaches the ears of decision makers....cos anni seems to be promising flats in every island he goes....i beleive it would be much better for the government to provide land and affordable credit schemes , and a running real estate market to solve the housing problem.