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Monday, October 5, 2009

Affordable home policy mulled

PENANG: The Penang Government is looking into the implementation of a new housing policy that will mark the end of the construction of low-cost flats in the state.

Deputy Chief Minister I Mansor Othman said current trends were leaning toward affordable homes.

“We are not thinking anymore of low-cost flats, we are thinking about affordable homes now,” he told reporters when attending a housing forum organised by the Bukit Gelugor Residents’ Welfare Association in George Town yesterday.

Mansor said the affordable houses would still be in the price range of the lower income group — be it the urban and semi-urban or the rural areas.

“There is a demand for affordable homes and I think that those from the low-income group, who are the target (of this new policy), can afford homes from RM60,000 to RM100,000.

“We have to add more of these houses and the state needs to create more affordable houses in every district,” he said, adding the houses should be at least 850 sq ft.

Mansor said the state executive council was currently trying to resolve issues pertaining to squatter and strata title issues in the state and this should be concluded by the end of the month.

“We are thinking about a new (housing) policy and are currently discussing it at the state executive council meeting.

“There are 160,000 unresolved strata title cases in Penang and after we finish looking into that, we hope to come up with some kind of policy suggestion for housing.

“Come November, we can begin discussions and by January, I think we can kick off the policy,” he said.

Speaking to reporters at the same function, state PKR chairman Datuk Seri Zahrain Mohamed Hashim described some of the current low-cost flats as “unliveable” and urged the state to look into improving houses for the lower-income group.

“Houses that are between 550 sq ft and 600 sq ft are not livable and should not be encouraged,” he said, adding that houses should be a minimum of 900 sq ft for comfortable living.

On the state’s plan to raise the density in certain places in Penang, Zahrain said he supported the decision.

“I totally agree. Land is scarce in Penang and sticking to 20-year-old policies are not relevant anymore.

“But we don’t want the creation of slums. If the density is too high, there will be social problems,” he said.

By The Star

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