Rapid urbanization and and migration of refugees into the country have made housing one of the country's most acute social problems. Although housing has always been given top priority in development plans, the gap between supply and demand for dwellings has grown increasingly wide. During the fourth plan (1968–73), nearly 300,000 housing units were built, but because some 120,000 new families were added to the urban population during that period, the average density rose from 7.7 to 8.5 persons per dwelling. During the same period, the national urban housing deficit rose from 721,000 to 1.1 million units. However, housing starts fell sharply after the 1979 revolution, as construction declined precipitously because of lack of funding (construction of all buildings dropped by 21% in 1981/82 and 24% in 1982/83).
in the Second Five-Year Development Plan (1995–2000), the government presented programs focused on attracting private sector investment and approving legal and economic measures that could result in the construction and availabilty of 2,500,000 housing units. As of 2003, data concerning the completion of these projects was unavilable to this publication.
According to 1996 national statistics, there were about 12,349,003 private households in permanent dwellings. About 38,940 househoulds were listed as "unsettled," which is to say they were either homeless or nomadic.
In 1986 (the latest year for which such statistics are available), 43% of all housing units were constructed of brick with iron beams, 19% were adobe and wood, 16% were brick with wooden beams, 10% were adobe and mud, 5% were cement block, and 3% were iron with a cement skeleton. Electricity was available in 84% of all housing units, 95% had a water toilet, 75% had piped water, 54% had a kitchen, and 47% had a bath.