The Penang state government should provide alternative housing for the families camped in Komtar since last week, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) said today.
Persatuan Kebajikan Surplus Pulau Pinang chairman Mohd Sophian Mohd Zain said today is the sixth day the families had to camp at the complex after they were evicted from public housing last Wednesday.
“The government should provide them with alternative places to live if they won’t let them go back to Taman Manggis but the state government did not do this, they are casting them out on the streets literally,” he claimed today.
He said the government should stop using the “ineligibility” excuse in the eviction of the families but provide a solution for it.
“They have refused to engage with the residents, refused to discuss solutions with them and did not even offer alternative places for them to move to,” he told reporters after visiting seven families still camped in Komtar.
Last week, 22 families were evicted as they were found ineligible for the people’s housing project (PPR) units, but eight families had refused to move out.
Mohd Sophian said state housing exco Jagdeep Singh Deo was not fit to be a state exco as he allegedly made no effort to resolve this issue.
“All they wanted was alternative places to stay, permanent solutions to their problems. People need places to live in, they can’t be sharing homes with relatives and neighbours forever,” he said.
He said the families affected were poor and criticised the state government for its RM1,500 income limit per household for those living in PPR units.
“If we go by this limit, then everyone in Taman Manggis will be ineligible but they are still poor and couldn’t afford to buy low cost housing,” he said.
He said many of the lower income group could not get bank loans to buy low cost housing, but the state did not offer them alternatives.
He demanded to know if there were any rent-to-own projects offered to those the government evicted from PPR units.
“They can’t get loans to buy low cost, they were evicted from PPR and there’s nowhere else for them to go. This is the main issue. The issue is not only on their eligibility or the long waiting list for PPR,” he said.
When told that the state government had claimed that some NGOs were inciting the tenants to protest and fight against the administration over the eviction, Mohd Sophian challenged the government to prove it.
“Name the NGOs who were inciting them, show proof, if you ask any of the tenants, they will tell you whether the NGOs have helped or incited them,” he said.
Jagdeep and Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow have, in the past week, said the state had a long waiting list of 1,137 applicants for PPR units in Penang.
They said the PPR units are transition homes for up to five years and tenants are subjected to review every two years.
PPR units are rented to Malaysian low-income earners at only RM124 per month but applicants must meet all eligibility criteria that included the RM1,500 income limit. All living there must be Malaysians and do not own homes.