Safe and comfortable housing, including its surroundings, is essential for the wellbeing of a household. For low-income households especially, housing and social environs plays a critical role in providing support in areas such as childcare and safety. The Government’s zero squatter policy, initiated in 1998, have markedly reduced the number of squatter settlements in favour of relocation into public housing with better amenities though this has also generated a separate set of challenges such as congestion, ethnic relations and social ills.
Key Issues & Current Interventions
- Although the incidence of squatter living has been reduced, access to affordable housing is still a challenge.
- In the 11th Malaysia Plan the Government has pledged to ensure that all Malaysians are able to sustainably own or rent affordable housing by 2020.
- A 2016 IB40 survey undertaken by the MIB Secretariat found that housing is the second highest form of assistance requested by the IB40 respondents. 47% of the same pool of respondents, i.e. almost half of those surveyed, also felt that housing allocations were unfair to Malaysian Indians.
- To date, the monitoring of allocations is undertaken on an ad hoc basis. For this to be systematic and internalised, state and federal agencies need to take on targets to reduce the inter-ethnic housing gap, particularly pertaining to allocations of owned units.
- Financing solutions, such as rent-to-buy schemes should also be provided, particularly for those who cannot qualify for commercial mortgages for reasons apart from affordability.
- Only 56% of Malaysian Indian households own their places of residence compared to 62% Bumiputera households and 61% Chinese households.
- Apart from general low-cost housing, a distinct problem pertinent to the Malaysian Indian community is the resettlement of ex-estate workers.
- The CCIC has pledged to ensure the provision of housing facilities for estate workers and to otherwise ensure the IB40’s housing needs are met. In sum, successful resettlement requires advance planning and the facilitated involvement of several stakeholders, including the state and Federal governments.
Moving Forward: Recommendations & Initiatives
To deliver on the targets, the MIB aims to effect the following:
1. IB40 housing status database & monitoring
The MIB Implementation Unit will survey IB40 households periodically to track housing status (and other poverty dimensions), with focus on those who have applied, or who are qualified, for low-cost housing.
2. Professional mediation and facilitation
A trained mediation team will work with state governments and federal housing agencies to facilitate resettlement and to help resolve issues arising
3. Policy and regulatory review
MIB Implementation Unit will research and propose a policy framework as well as regulatory amendments towards establishing clearer and firmer guidelines on the process and obligations related to resettlement.
4. Adjustment support post-resettlement
MIB Implementation Unit will provide support for resettled Indian families to adjust to their new surroundings.