This paper examines the complexities involved in 'enabling' the provision of housing in developing countries. In conventional thinking the enabling strategy focuses on the ability of the private sector, specifically the 'markets', to deliver housing. Enabling has been promoted as consisting of, primarily, decentralisation, privatisation, deregulation and demand-driven development. The focus of the policy prescriptions is to reduce the 'damaging' involvement of the state. This paper presents evidence from slum redevelopment programmes in Mumbai, India, to demonstrate that enabling is likely to be much more complicated. Paradoxically, enabling housing provision through market mechanisms may require four levels of seeming policy contradictions - both decentralisation and centralisation; both privatisation and public investment; both deregulation and new regulations, and both demand-driven and supply-driven development. In other words, enabling is likely to require a different type of state involvement, not necessarily less state involvement. A complex and more sophisticated role of the state is necessary to provide the institutional support for well functioning property markets, as well as to capture the opportunities high value property markets provide.