Public housing can provide citizens with livable homes when proper policies are in place.
Millions of people around the world face challenges in finding adequate and affordable housing.
Housing is not just a basic need, but a fundamental human right.
However, adequate housing means more than just having a roof over our heads.
A home needs to provide shelter, safety, and comfort, as well as instill a sense of pride, dignity and the opportunity to lead better lives for those who dwell in them.
This is especially true for Malaysia’s low and medium-income groups—the B40 and M40.
For decades, the government has tried to remedy this problem through the introduction of programmes like the People’s Housing Project or better known as PPR (Projek Perumahan Rakyat), which is supposed to provide affordable and comfortable homes for B40 and M40 citizens.
The problem with PPRs
However, PPRs also have a reputation for being far from ideal places to live and are plagued with issues like poor living conditions, lack of maintenance and facilities, as well as overcrowding.
The result of this is the rise of social and health problems among PPR residents, especially children and adolescents.
Studies conducted by the Health Ministry (KKM) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) show that 12.3% of children and teenagers living in PPRs across the Klang Valley suffer from mental health issues such as depression and anxiety—with 13.4% of them having thoughts of self-harm and suicide.
PPRs are also stereotyped to have high rates of criminal activity such as theft, vandalism, gang violence and drug abuse.
Despite these issues, there is a silver lining. Public housing can provide citizens with livable homes when proper policies are in place.
Our neighbours Singapore and Thailand, for instance, have made significant strides in providing adequate and affordable housing for their low and middle-income communities.
Around 80% of Singaporeans live in government-built homes, while the Thais receive regular support and funding from their government through grants and loans in order to afford their own private homes.
Transforming Malaysia’s public housing sector
With the aim of making PPRs more accommodating to the rakyat, the Unity Government recently announced several measures under Belanjawan 2023 to address the gaps within the public housing sector in Malaysia.
Belanjawan 2023 is the largest budget in the nation’s history and a big allocation was made to develop, improve and maintain PPRs in urban and rural areas, as well as to encourage home ownership among Malaysians.
Constructing new PPRs
The government pledged to spend RM367 million to develop several new PPRs across the country to provide affordable housing for at least 12,400 new residents.
Another RM358 million will be for the development of the Rumah Mesra Rakyat (RMR) programme under Syarikat Perumahan Negara (SPNB) to build 4,250 homes for Malaysian households that earn less than RM5,000 monthly.
Improve PPR living standards and surroundings
Additionally, RM50 million will be allocated to speed up the replacement of old and rundown elevators at PPRs to ensure the safety and comfort of residents. The government also raised the quotation cap for repairing and maintaining lifts at PPRs from RM500,000 to RM1.2 million.
Through the ThinkCity programme, around RM30 million will be spent on improving the habitability of PPRs in Kuala Lumpur by upgrading decaying infrastructure and beautifying the landscapes and surroundings.
The government also plans to provide free internet access at 56 selected PPRs across the country as well as allocate RM15 million to support non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in providing education to PPR children who are falling behind in their studies.
To raise the commercial earning potential of residents, RM30 million will also be spent to empower economic activity through businesses and job creation.
Encouraging home ownership
To motivate more people to own their homes, the government will continue to provide stamp duty exemptions for first-time buyers with a full exemption given for homes worth under RM500,000 and a 75% exemption for homes valued at RM500,000 to RM1 million.
The Syarikat Jaminan Kredit Perumahan (SJKP) scheme will also provide credit guarantees up to RM5 billion to assist citizens who do not have a fixed income. This is estimated to benefit and aid some 20,000 borrowers to purchase their own homes.
Additional measures to improve public housing
The government has also made allocations to further improve the country’s public housing and public infrastructures with;
- RM200 million to fund the WPKL Low-Cost Public Housing Maintenance programme.
- RM44.4 million for the Malaysian Housing Maintenance Fund (TPPM).
- RM46 million to fund the State Low-Cost Public Housing Maintenance (PPP) programme.
- RM25 million to upgrade and maintain living conditions in Kampung Baru Cina across the country.
- RM463 million to fund the construction of 23,000 homes under the PPR programme.
- RM460.2 million to repair rural houses in the Peninsular and Sabah and Sarawak.
- RM100 million for collaborative projects with government agencies and NGOs for water, electricity and education projects as well as improving the economic conditions and the environment.
Belanjawan 2023 is not just about numbers and figures. It is also about improving the quality of life and well-being of the rakyat. Click HERE to explore how the government aims to transform the nation’s public housing sector and provide better living standards for the people.
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