Poverty forum: Affordable housing should be seen as human right

Affordable housing should be seen as a human right, stressed the panellists of a forum in conjunction with Gabungan Marhaen movement’s poverty eradication festival, Himpunan Marhaen, yesterday.

The forum, which kicked off the five-day festival, saw Khazanah Research Institute (KRI) research associate Gregory Ho Wai Son discussing the challenges surrounding poverty and affordable housing in Malaysia.

This included lack of quality low-cost housing, lack of housing standards and stressful housing loan tenure.ADS

Citing a KRI study on Kuala Lumpur’s People’s Housing Projects (PPR), Ho said the study had found that the standards of PPR units in the city was, “to a certain degree”, unsatisfactory.

He added that the standard size of all PPR units is 650sqf, with the average number of occupants in each unit ranging from four to six people.

“The question is, is this right? Is providing a home for the underprivileged at 650sqf that roughly six people have to squeeze into something that should be done?” he asked at the forum.

He added that pensioners living at PPR may not need so much space.

“If you look at Singapore’s HDB flats, they have different kinds of floor plans. If you are a single household looking for your first job, an affordable house with two rooms could be suitable.

“And in five years, if your household gets bigger, you could choose to find a larger home that is suitable for your use,” said Ho.

He concluded his talk with a call for suitable housing to accommodate the needs of the B40 group, saying that they deserved it as a basic human right.

Separately, Marhaen Urban Settlers Network representative E Parames stressed the issue of housing in Malaysia, which should be seen as a human right rather than a commodity.

At the forum, she advanced six important demands made by the Marhaen Urban Settlers Network.

This includes building affordable houses under RM100,000, building more PPR rental houses, stopping forced evictions, halting the auction of marhaen houses, setting up a B40/M40 house building trust, and having municipalities take over the maintenance of low-cost flats.

The forum’s panellists included Gedung plantation worker Shanmugam, Media Record representative Azura Nasron, JMB Pangsapuri representative Mohd Yuswan Hamza, among others.

Formed in 2017, Gabungan Marhaen is a coalition of grassroots communities, community and union collectives, like-minded NGOs, grassroots communities’ leaders and activists.

The coalition aims to incorporate and strengthen all marhaen (marginalised) communities into work plans and activities.

Its members include the Government Contract Workers Network, the Farm Worker Support Committee, the Urban Settlers and Housing Coalition, the Low-Cost Flat Committee, the Farmers Coalition, Orang Asli/Asal communities, the Environmental Coalition and informal sectors workers, among others.

Himpunan Marhaen aims to act as an avenue for grassroots groups to share their experiences on issues that they face during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The five-day festival, which started on Oct 12, offers an array of online gatherings with changing thematic issues every day of the week.

Those interested in attending the forums can sign up here.

Originally on MalaysiaKini.com

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