“Best public housing, together”
Cramped living space for families in PPRs where the living room, dining room and sometimes the bedroom merge.
Jan Gehl, a world leader in people-centered urban design, said in his TED Talk: “We know a lot about the right habitat for mountain gorillas. We know a lot about the right habitat for Siberian tigers. But we know next to nothing about the right urban habitat for homo sapiens.”
A subtle shift in mindset has taken place over the years. It has ignited the will to ensure that housing, especially for the urban poor, reflects the changing society and its drive for modernization, benefiting from a people-centred urbanization that is sustainable, livable and progressive. .
As Malaysia urbanizes and expands systematically within the parameters of limited land, the challenges of creating homes, especially for B40 communities, are a priority. Access to housing must transcend the provision of shelter to a space that protects and grants an inclusive, safe and clean environment that promotes access to opportunity and facilitates upward social mobility.
Across Malaysia, nearly 3 million people live in 4,500 low-cost public and private housing projects. Significantly, of the entire high-rise public housing population nationwide, almost 65%, or 1.76 million, lived in the Klang Valley area. This translates to almost 25% of the population of the Klang Valley. Low-income families living in these condominium apartments are often daily wage earners and a higher than average proportion are single mothers. Many of these households live meal after meal, making ends meet where they can.
Each HLM has a playground but this requires better maintenance and a suitable location for safety, access and hygiene.
Malaysia’s Public Housing Projects (PPR) remain the best option for the B40, offering low rents and purchase options. Other affordable and low-cost goods remain out of reach of the B40 community, especially those living below the poverty line. These PPRs served their original purpose, improving the lives of the B40 community, improving living conditions, increasing health dividends and eradicating slums. However, growing concerns about its effectiveness have come under scrutiny as it has created pockets of deprivation in the community, further compounded by the turmoil of the pandemic. In addition, the physical structure of PPR buildings, its environment, access to education, employment, health service provision and infrastructure continue to be a growing problem for the B40 community.
Playgrounds are provided as recreational facilities, although they are not used very often due to poor maintenance and sightings of graffiti.
The existing conditions at the RPP level call for public and private sector and sub-sector reform of policies and programs. Basic access and affordability of transportation, improved opportunities for community interaction and recreation, and preservation of green spaces are some of the key identifiers of structural improvisations. The lack of maintenance and rapid decay of structures require facility designs that accommodate the widest range of potential users, including people with disabilities and other special needs, and support the goals of accessibility, community cohesion and equity, especially safe spaces for children to live, play and learn .
To jointly discuss key livability issues in public housing, Malaysia’s first-ever public housing livability conference, Rights To The City, will discuss the latest thinking, issues and challenges that are disrupting the lives of rakyat to PPRs. Themed “Better Public Housing, Together,” the conference presented by Think City in collaboration with the Citi Foundation, will seek avenues through advocacy, cross-sector collaboration, research, and policy to improve lives and quality of life in the PPRs.
A common view around the corridors of the HLM