On difficulty levels greater than, say, 60 or 70 percent, I find I just don't have time to build a lot of bunkhouses before the communists start complaining about having to live in shacks. So here's what I do:
1. Build a tenement, set it to 1/3 of the lowest salary and normal maintenance.
2. Build a 2nd construction office
3. Build some bunkhouses near the industrial areas, set to 1/3 of lowest salary, normal maintenance.
4. Build a mine or additional cash crop farm (assuming you're starting with 30 people, you'll get 3 farms. If you start with 40, you'll get 4. I guess if you start with 50, you get 5??) If you've got enough workers, build a marketplace near your palace at this point. You will
want some of your workers to be living "downtown" such as your dockworkers (usually the dock's relatively close to the palace) and some construction workers. Putting a marketplace down now will allow you to build housing around it, rather than vice versa.
5. Kick married
couples, and preferably farmers, out of the tenement. They should then take up residence in the bunkhouses.
6. Build another tenement, set to roach motel and charge nothing for rent. This will allow your non-wage earning Tropicans to live in something only moderately better than a shack. It's all they deserve anyway.
7. Build other infrastructure as necessary to get industry and/or tourism up and running.
8. Build an apartment near downtown and the 1st tenement you built. Set it to be 1/3 the salary of a married couple where both partners have a high school education, set to normal maintenance.
9. Locate those couples (using the education listing is the easiest way to do this) and evict them from your original tenement. They should move into the apartment and thusly up your income from rental.
10. Build more infrastructure close to downtown if you haven't already ... clinic/church/pub/etc.
11. By this time, you'll notice your city is definitely taking on a recognizable shape. Now you can add houses to raise people's satisfaction levels even more. Try to place houses inbetween your industrial area and your downtown. Try to place them in a straight line if you can, and set the rent, again, to be 1/3 the salary of a married couple who both have a high school education (those who don't have that level of education should be in bunkhouses, closer to their work ... or they're single and can live in an ugly apartment!!!). Roads at this point are a good thing.
12. Evict your highest wage earners from the apartment complex, and they should move into your houses.
13. Try to empty the tenement, then tear it down, which should free up a good chunk of your downtown area for new infrastructure (restaurant/school/immigration or other building).
14. Keep evicting people who can afford to pay rent out of the "roach motel", and keep evicting married couples into housing. Surround the roach motel with eye-candy so no one will complain.
15. As education levels rise, build more housing, but adjust the rent you can charge to account for various combinations. NEVER allow single people to live in houses, nor the apartment if you can get away with it. That's just not cost-efficient.
16. Always build bunk or country houses near new areas of industrial or tourism development. If the latter, make sure you build eye-candy around them (small fountains, plants etc) so as not to displease your tourists.
17. As your game progresses and you're able to provide electricity to your Tropicans, try building some luxury housing near those facilities that need college educated workers such as your cathedral and armories. Set the rent to be 1/3 of the appropriate combined annual salary (remember MARRIED couples are the best bet for rents). Kick out your highest wage earning couples from the little blue houses and they should move into the luxury homes with a will.
This method may sound complicated, but it has worked *extremely* well for me, because it allows you to develop a definite "housing path" for your workers. As they progress along their career path, so too will they progress along a housing path. Unskilled laborers will get free rent in either the roach motel or a less-than-attractive shared bunkhouse (perhaps a country house if you're a kind Presidente). Moderately skilled workers will get to live in an apartment complex, eventually moving up to the nicer blue houses. Retirees and single people take the bottom rung of the ladder and live in the roach motel.
I've used this method on my last 3 games and not only has it guaranteed I'll earn at least a moderate amount on nearly all my housing, it keeps my Tropicans *very* happy. While I pause once every 1-2 years and issue the appropriate eviction notices during the early game, I find that your residents will more willingly move into better housing as the game moves into the mid- and late phases.
Hope this helps!