Penang turns to rent-to-own schemes to clear long waiting list for public housing

Penang state exco Jagdeep Singh Deo said the shortage of PPR units in the state meant the administration had to look for alternative solutions. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Penang state exco Jagdeep Singh Deo said the shortage of PPR units in the state meant the administration had to look for alternative solutions. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, March 5 — The Penang state government will turn some of its low cost housing units into rent-to-own schemes and offer it to those who applied for people’s housing project (PPR) units.

Penang state exco Jagdeep Singh Deo said the shortage of PPR units in the state meant the administration had to look for alternative solutions.

“We will convert some of our available low cost housing units into rent-to-own schemes for those who could not purchase low cost units,” he said in a press conference this morning.

The local government, housing development and town and country planning committee chairman said those who have been in the waiting list for PPR units for over a decade will be given priority to take up these units.

“We launched two pilot rent-to-own schemes in Jawi and it was nearly sold out so the latest two we are looking into are in Kampung Tok Subuh in Bukit Minyak and Balik Pulau,” he said.

He said the low cost housing project in Balik Pulau consisted of 1,153 units but the state planned to turn about half of it into rent-to-own schemes.

“There will be about 800 more rent-to-own units available from the projects in Bukit Minyak and Balik Pulau,” he said.

Jagdeep said Penang only has 999 PPR units while the state’s waiting list for PPR units now stand at 1,137 applicants.

He admitted that a majority of the demands were for PPR units in the north east district of the island, around George Town.

“We are working hard to have PPR and rent-to-own schemes in all districts to cater to applicants from everywhere,” he said.

He said rent-to-own schemes will benefit the applicants as it would give them a sense of ownership while at the same time, turn them into home owners.

Jagdeep said the construction of PPR units is under the federal government’s jurisdiction which was why Penang was left out in the past 10 years when the federal government was under Barisan Nasional’s control.

“Last June, immediately after Pakatan Harapan took over, I have spoken with the housing minister on building more PPR for Penang and we have identified a 4-acre land in Jelutong to build 1,000 units of PPR there,” he said.

Currently, the land still has some squatters so the state will need to relocate the squatters before they could hand over the land to the federal government to build PPR flats, he said.

When asked about the eviction of 22 tenants from Taman Manggis, a PPR housing, Jagdeep said they will still need to vacate the premises by tomorrow.

“Those who appealed against the eviction will get the decision today and if their appeal is rejected, they will have to vacate the units,” he said.

He said some tenants were found to have rented out the RM128 per month units at RM500 to RM600 to others.

“This is unacceptable and those who already bought their own homes are also ineligible,” he said.

He said it is unfair for these ineligible tenants to continue living in PPR units meant for the poor.

He said out of the 1,137 applicants on the waiting list for PPR units, 22 of them have waited for over 10 years while 271 waited for over seven years.

“How can we answer to these people who have waited so long for a PPR unit if we do not evict ineligible tenants from these units,” he asked.

He said the state housing department officers are always accompanied by police and enforcement officers from the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) when sealing the units to evict those ineligible.

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