Housing supply

Refsa urges the government to increase the supply of affordable housing | Daily Express Online

Refsa urges the government to increase the supply of affordable housing

Published on: Tuesday August 17th, 2021

By: Bernama

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Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia needs to increase its supply of affordable housing and ensure that selection procedures are consistent and transparent. Research for Social Advancement (REFSA) researcher Lillian Wee said the Covid-19 pandemic has amplified the gaps and division of Malaysia’s housing affordability crisis, but it has created a unique chance to rethink, replan and redesign key policies that will shape the future of people’s livelihoods. “When the result of a skewed real estate market is shuttered towns filled with homeless people, a stalled economy and, most devastating of all, the loss of homes, basic amenities and essentially lives, we cannot longer allow us to wait. It’s time to act,” she said in a statement.

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According to the statement, in 1990 the price of an average home was equivalent to about 4.7 years of per capita income, and today it has almost doubled to 9.5 years. Between 1990 and 2019, the average house price increased 5.6 times, representing a capital appreciation of 460%. In contrast, real gross domestic product (GDP) per capita grew only 2.8 times, or 180%. Amidst all this, the availability of low-cost housing is slow at best. Out of a total of 117,766 new homes built in 2020, only 14,094 homes or 12% are low priced or priced below RM400,000.

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“This figure falls short of the National Affordable Housing Council’s goal of building 100,000 low-cost housing units per year,” Refsa said. Meanwhile, on the other hand, 13,622 overhang units across Malaysia are priced above RM500,000. Wee also pointed out that rental market regulation needs to be improved and protected to balance legal power between landlord and tenant. “As it is, renting is generally much less secure; many tenants are prevented from making their house their home and tenants do not benefit from the tax and social advantages of home ownership. “With this in mind, government and policymakers should consider protective measures such as abolishing ‘no cause’ evictions, extending minimum notice periods and creating a different regime for long-term tenancies. “, she said. For those already homeless or living in overcrowded homes, Wee said temporary emergency accommodation with basic hygiene facilities should be provided. This can be achieved by exploiting and converting underutilized private buildings such as abandoned shopping malls and hotels, and repurposing community assets such as currently closed schools and community centers as short-term solutions for the urban poor or the homeless.