Prior to 1952, most Egyptians lived in mud huts. Postrevolutionary governments, however, have actively concerned themselves with housing. In order to encourage rural housing activities on nonfertile soil, "extension areas" have been allocated for villages. Efforts have been made to provide low-rent housing in towns; the units were constructed in cooperation with the Reconstruction and Popular Dwellings Co., in which the government held a share. Assisted by the state, which grants long-term and low-interest loans, cooperative societies also engage in housing construction. The state affords facilities for cooperatives to acquire land from the religious foundations.
Despite these efforts, Egypt's housing shortage remains acute, with about one million units needed in urban areas. Housing construction was a major priority of development plans in the 1980s, but it was considered likely that it would take many years for Egypt's housing deficit to be met. The greatest shortage is in low-cost housing.
According to the 1996 census, there were about about 9.6 million apartments and 4.5 million rural homes throughout the country. About 2.6 million units were built between 1981–1999. There were nearly 400 slum/squatter areas housing over seven million people.