Societe Immobiliere de Mayotte (SIM), a mixed-economy company mediates social housing policies in the French Overseas Territory of Mayotte. The small island is part of the Comoros archipelago, but has chosen by popular vote to remain with France. Since 1978 the SIM has provided more than 40 per cent of the housing stock on the island, and has worked to develop a local compacted earth brick industry based on available natural resources and traditional master-builder labour organizations. In addition, SIM is a leading force in the economic growth of the island.
The social housing programme developed by SIM has undergone many changes in the last few years. In the first phase, SIM had to meet the immediate need to upgrade the poor housing conditions on the island. Under this mandate SIM produced over fourteen thousand housing units at a rate of approximately eight hundred per year. This enabled a large percentage of the population to move from mud- and tree-huts into semi-stable conditions. However, as the population was growing very rapidly in the meantime, the demand for new housing became a major issue. Thus, for some time, SIM has been working to provide a major part of the new demand for the housing stock. Today about 40 per cent of the primary households are built by SIM. The ability of SIM to provide new housing is encumbered by the fact that land is becoming scarce. The old communal system of providing land for housing is severely hampered by the monetary transformation of the economy. Thus, even though SIM's budget has been steadily increasing over the years, the number of housing units produced has not kept pace, and remains at the rate of 700-800 units per year.
A recent demand on the housing market has become more acute of late. The early housing built by SIM is now in need of rehabilitation, or expansion at the very least. The self-help work undertaken by the house owners to expand their homes or refurbish them has always been considered a healthy endeavour. Indeed, the original theory of SIM was to provide the basic housing unit and amenable conditions for growth. However, as has become apparent, the owners have not invested the effort needed to bring the basic housing unit up to a better standard. Furthermore, the new additions were often poorly constructed and in most cases without proper safety regulations. This led SIM to direct its efforts into developing the technical and financial means to assist these house owners. An experimental phase is now under way that is intended to develop a workable programme.