News: Chasing Elusive Dreams: Home Ownership Still Out of Reach For Most PPR Residents

Dec 5, 2017

With Malaysia’s central bank describing property prices in Penang as “severely unaffordable”, families living in government-owned public housing units, or PPR, have likened the idea of owning a nicer house to building a castle in the sky.

“We never thought of that. We really can’t afford to. We have no savings,” said housewife N Maligah, who lives with her family in a PPR unit in George Town, Penang.

Paying a monthly rent of RM100, Maligah’s family – which include her husband who is the sole bread winner, three school-going children and her mother – is one of thousands living in the 102,896 PPR units throughout Malaysia.

To qualify for a unit, a family must have a monthly household income of RM1,500 or below.

Penang State Housing Executive Councillor Jagdeep Singh Deo has revealed in August that Penang has 2,370 PPR units, of which 320 are vacant.

Penang Federal Action Council Chairman Zainal Abidin Osman also said in September that 16,297 housing units under the 1Malaysia Housing Schemes (PR1MA) would be built across six locations within the state.

PR1MA homes are priced from RM100,000 to RM400,000. Only first-time home buyers with a household income of RM2,500 to RM15,000 per month are eligible for the scheme.

To help low-income families get on the property ladder, the state government of Penang capped the prices of affordable homes to RM300,000 on the island and RM250,000 on the mainland.

Low-medium cost and low-cost homes, on the other hand, are offered at RM72,500 and RM42,000, respectively.

Despite this, owning a home remains out of reach for families living in PPRs, who have other dreams aside from acquiring a house.

With a monthly income of RM1,000, single mother Mariah Abdul Ghani, who lives in the Ampang Jajar PPR in Butterworth, is working hard to ensure that her youngest son completes secondary school. Her two older sons had dropped out of school after finishing Secondary Two.

“My hopes and dreams are all in my youngest. There is little I can do for my older boys. They both work in a bread factory and will take care of their own lives,” said Mariah.

“My priority now is the make sure their little brother has a better education and a better future.”

Aside from her income as a cleaner, she earns some extra cash by frying nuggets and ‘cekodok’ (banana fritters) for a food stall operated by another resident.

“The nuggets and cekodok get me RM400 to RM500 but that still is inclusive of cost. I don’t make much profit with flour, cooking oil and bananas getting pricier,” shared Mariah.

“I also collect recyclables to sell. That got me RM12 the last time. I have no choice if I want to make ends meet. So, no I am not thinking of moving from the flats. Not that this is a great place, but this is the best I can do.”

Other PPR residents have come to accept that they will be living in the flats for the rest of their lives, while others believe it is a dream that could only be fulfilled by their children.

“If we have to rent, then this flat is the best at RM100 a month. The cheaper the rent, the better. Out there, you have to pay RM400, RM500,” said a 58-year old carpenter in the Jalan Sungai PPR who wanted to be known only as Mr Tan. His three adult children work as a factory hand, clerk and cook.

“Buying an apartment is expensive. Most of the better ones will cost around RM400,000. My kids can’t afford it now since they don’t earn much. Maybe one day. For now, we are okay here. We are used to our environment. It’s not so bad,” he said.

Image sourced from Today Online

This article was edited by the editorial team of PropertyGuru. To contact them about this or other stories email

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