New policy to tackle affordable housing issues in Sarawak

New policy to tackle affordable housing issues in Sarawak

The issue of expensive housing in Sarawak would be addressed next year when the new housing policy is implemented, said state housing and tourism minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He said when the proposed new affordable housing policy and guidelines were endorsed by the state cabinet and enforced by next year, the price of houses in Sarawak would be very much reduced.

According to Abang Johari, a double-storey terrace house in Kuching was being sold at RM550,000 per unit while in Bintulu it was RM655,000.

“Under the new housing policy, the price for low-cost houses will be below RM200,000 per unit but the units will be bigger,” he told a press conference today.
Abang Johari said the major issues and challenges in the state housing sector included private developers who were not keen in building low-cost and low-cost plus houses due to low level of profitability and high cost of cross-subsidy with the normal housing.

This, he added, had contributed to the high price of houses, especially in urban and sub-urban areas which made houses unaffordable even for medium income group.

He said the average price of houses in Sarawak had risen significantly, noting however, that increase in household income had not increased at the same rate.

“Thus, issues of affordability and housing stress become central to a larger section of society, especially in bigger cities such as Kuching, Miri, Bintulu and Sibu.

“The increment of medium income in Sarawak from 2009 until 2015 is on the average of 7% to 9% but the house price index in the state in 2011 until 2013 increased substantially from 10% to 15%.”

Hence, Abang Johari said his ministry had proposed to the state government on the implementation of a new affordable housing policy and design guidelines.

This new policy would involve significant enhancement to the existing low-cost housing policy and the state approach on affordable housing provision, he said.

The proposal covers among others, improved changes on the design, planning requirements and maximum selling price of the low-cost and affordable housing units.

Abang Johari said the new policy would enhance the involvement of private housing developers in providing more affordable homes to the rakyat, boost supply of affordable homes in the market to bridge the demand and supply gap, and also leverage on new housing opportunities towards the densification of Sarawak cities and towns.

He said a key recommendation under this new housing policy proposal was that the house unit to be built should be divided into two categories – low-medium and medium price unit, instead of only low-cost to address the housing needs of the middle-income group, apart from the low income segment.

Besides, he said the size of the houses would be increased to a minimum of 700 sq ft for low-cost housing, instead of the existing 444 sq ft, with three bedrooms, while development above 10-acre was required to build low-medium and medium price houses with 50% of each category and low-cost flat and apartment to be provided with lift service. – Bernama, November 27, 2015.

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