The need for large increments in low income housing in Kumasi is established using data from surveys in 1980 and 1986. The scale of the need is such that reliance on the initiative of ordinary people is indicated for any realistic policy. Most theory on such initiatives relies on a world-view in which housing is a marketable good for which individual action is the major initiator and economic security or gain the major motivator. This paper shows how the Asante world-view, which dominates activity in Kumasi, imposes very particular constraints and opportunities for the housing policy maker. Their effect on the provision of housing is assessed and alternative approaches are recommended which are congruent with the local world-view.