NIBONG TEBAL: What is the point of having more low-cost flats if they will likely turn into slums?
Jawi assemblyman Jason H’ng Mooi Lye wants the state government to consider this likelihood before approving or building more low-cost home projects.
“We need the state government to think properly about this. What is the use of building more when they will have the same problem as the existing ones?” he asked.
H’ng became the area’s assemblyman this year and since his days as a municipal councillor from 2013, he has been dealing with low-cost housing projects that turn into slums.
“Honestly, when we pump in money to help residents replace the lights along the corridors and staircases, they are all gone again within a week. Somebody will steal them. When we organise gotong-royong, none of the residents help and only council workers do the cleaning.
“The residents keep coming to our service centre to ask for money to pay the utility bills,” he said.
H’ng’s constituency has 17 established low-cost housing projects, some more than 20 years old and nearly all are walk-up flats.
He said about half of them were in a squalid state.
“Low-cost flats that are People’s Housing Projects are better managed because they are under the state Housing Department. But privately-owned low-cost flats are nearly all in trouble.
“I have been trying so long to help the residents without success that I am on the verge of giving up. I don’t know what to do anymore.
“Even when the state set up an 80:20 maintenance fund to help the residents upgrade or improve facilities, it is no use to them because there are no management committees to manage the money,” he said.
Called the Penang Maximum 80% Housing Maintenance Fund, the state will finance 80% of the cost of needful projects such as roofing repairs, elevator replacements, paint jobs and water tank patches.
Residents need to raise the remaining funds themselves.
“These low-cost flats cannot benefit from the fund because none of the residents wants to form a management committee to care for their homes,” he said.
H’ng felt that the state should step in and form a body to take up the management of these flats.
“Many of the units were repossessed by banks and have become worthless. I hope the state can negotiate with the banks and take over the flats for a reduced price.
“After repairing them, the state can lease the homes to deserving underprivileged families. There are hundreds of such units in my constituency alone and many more throughout South Seberang Prai.
“It is a big waste while so many poor families can benefit from them,” H’ng said.