A suitable place

The low-cost people's housing project (PPR) Taman Cendana at Pasir Gudang, Johor Baru. - ZAZALI MUSA/The Star

JOHOR BARU: The Federal and state governments have been urged to look beyond financial allocation when it comes to building more affordable houses for low-income families.

Property consultant Samuel Tan Wee Cheng said while funding was important, the authorities should also focus on the issue of suitability and distribution of such houses.

“Suitability entails building these affordable houses in the right location with the right designs,’’ he said, adding that distribution must be done in an efficient manner when allocating such houses to ensure only the right targets receive them.

Tan, who is director of KGV International Property Consultants (M) Sdn Bhd, said another issue that needed urgent attention was the ability of developers to complete and deliver the houses within an appropriate time frame.

“If the above issues are addressed, we will see more take-up for the houses from low-income families,’’ he said.

He noted that there were too many agencies involved in tackling the affordable housing problem, and said there was a need for a central body to manage the matter in Malaysia.

Since housing was a state matter, Tan said certain legal adjustments were needed to be done.

He said supply of such houses must be targeted and demand-driven, and a big data approach was important to ensure that the plans were realistic and achievable.

“I noticed that announcements are often for publicity and headlines purposes,’’ he said.

He said the industrialised building system (IBS) and modern technology were effective means to achieve the target of building and delivering affordable houses to the masses.

But IBS was good only if there was an economic scale, he said, adding that this was where a coordinated effort was needed to ensure its efficiency.

“Developers and contractors should be given incentives to adopt such technologies,’’ Tan said.

Johor Consumers Movement Association chairman Md Salleh Sadijo pointed out there were several aspects that needed to be looked into when building affordable houses for low-income families.

He said the tender process for the housing projects must be carried based on merit to eliminate dubious tenderers from using political muscle to win projects at any cost.

He suggested establishing a task force from the ministry level right down to the local authority to ensure that the work in progress was in accordance to the time frame.

“The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission should assign a team to monitor the project as any misappropriation can be detected at an early stage,’’ he said.

Md Salleh said the problem of non-equitable distribution of affordable homes was a longstanding one, and linked to political patronage where some party warlords would reward supporters with units meant for low-income families.

“This denied the rights of the low-income group from owning the houses they deserved,’’ said Md Salleh.

The Federal Government announced the allocation of RM1.26bil under Budget 2021, to build affordable houses for low-income families.

Some RM500mil will go into building 14,000 units of low-cost houses under the Public Housing Programme and about RM315mil to build 3,000 units Rumah Mesra Rakyat by the National Housing Development Company.

A total of RM125mil was allocated for maintenance of low and low-medium stratified housing as well as assistance to repair dilapidated houses damaged by natural disasters.

Another RM310mil was allocated for the civil servants housing programmes.

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