A lack of affordable housing is a problem the world over affecting urban people from the poorest slums to those in the wealthy state of California. The consultancy firm McKinsey estimates that a third of a billion urban households now live in gravely substandard housing. As more people leave the land for city life, by 2025 this figure will approach half a billion.

The arrival of the coronavirus, which particularly affects people living in cramped accommodation, has added urgency to the problem, while at the same time swallowing up budgets that could have been used to build better homes.

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