[T Talk] Do we need an Affordable Housing Council?

The column reflects the view of the writer.

By Tharmini Kenas

I AM 26 years old, and I am a tenant. The Malaysian society I am living in has gently started to enquire me about my own home. As a twenty-something who doesn’t have a trust fund, lives 300 km from hometown and trying to chase my dream in Kuala Lumpur, I have come to realise that the prospect of owning a home is a long haul.

Housing in the city is unaffordable for youngsters like me. The mismatch in supply and demand for housing, as well as the relatively high-priced new launches, are two significant factors that have brought us to face this sneering situation.

What I find funny yet profoundly discouraging is that there seems to be a massive difference between what the government and private bodies quote to be the affordable housing price range in Malaysia. Bank Negara Malaysia has quoted affordable housing price to be around RM282,000 while many private developers have quoted RM400,000 to RM500,000 to be the affordable range depending on the location.

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When the affordable housing schemes were introduced, they looked like a light at the end of the tunnel. It soon advanced to many affordable housing projects under many government agencies. The public was confused about where to apply, what to apply for, and whether they make the cut.

The uncoordinated affordable housing agencies deter the maximum potential of these affordable housing schemes. According to Bank Negara Malaysia Fourth Quarter 2017 Bulletin, over 20 national and state-level agencies have been involved in various affordable housing schemes. Among the agencies are 1Malaysia Housing Projects for Civil Servants (PPA1M), PR1MA Corp Malaysia (PR1MA), Syarikat Peru­mahan Negara Bhd (SPNB), Prime Minister’s Department and Felda.

The way to ensure all these affordable housing schemes and agencies benefit the community is to centralise them. Integrating these agencies under a single entity will give way to better planning, implementation and execution. Besides the apparent reduction in workforce, time and resource wastage, a single entity would be a highly efficient body managing the database and identifying the shortfalls.

In a recent press conference, Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin had said that all affordable housing agencies would be placed under the proposed Affordable Housing Council. This council is expected to be set up by early August.

Do we need an Affordable Housing Council?

YES.



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