Housing affordability is one of the key determinants of a country’s growth and socioeconomic balance. The National Housing Policy (NHP) served as an effective tool to ensure the sustainability of the housing industry. It provides a clear direction for all stakeholders in the Malaysian housing planning and development to guarantee the housing affordability for every category of salary earners –  a the low-income, middle-income, and high income individuals.

Housing affordability is a constant concern in Malaysia, particularly for residents of major cities such as Johor Baharu, Klang Valley, and Penang. As housing price rises faster compared to incomes, this will likely affect the current and future young generations in terms of renting and house ownership issues, particularly among the low- and middle-income groups.

Although Penang Island has made progress and produced a luxurious and aesthetically pleasing built environment, low and middle-income islanders are still denied accessibility to well-designed and conveniently located houses. Realising citizens’ desire for a decent place to live on the island, Penang State and private developers have planned and developed new housing schemes. In the first seven months (Jan-July) of 2022, there are 20 most active projects, 60% of which are affordable housing projects, and 9 of the 20 projects are newly added.

The labour shortage and rising construction costs in building material prices have impacted the marketability of residential property prices and the purchasing power of middle and low-income buyers. Increased house prices will result in a property overhang, and housing developers may face difficulties reviving the residential property market. Due to increased interest rates, buyers may need to reconsider their financial plans for property purchases, loan eligibility, and monthly mortgage repayments. To improve the cycle of housing poverty and inequitable housing distribution on the island, the Penang Local Government, Housing, Town, and Country Planning Committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo hopes that the Federal Government could assist the Penang state and its housing industry.

Despite the fact that some of the difficulties faced by housing developers are beyond their control, the Penang state government is committed to helping them. According to Jagdeep Singh Deo, all affordable housing players is expected to take part in the housing expo from Sept 30 to October 2, 2022 and the event will take place at Lower Ground, Prangin Mall. Jagdeep, who is also the Housing Selection Process Enhancement Committee (SPEC) Chairman, will ensure that only truly qualified individuals can purchase affordable homes in the state.

To date, Penang has approved 76,365 units of Affordable Houses (RMM) throughout the state so that residents could own houses and enjoy a better quality of life (The Sun Daily, 9 April 2022). The state’s plan is to continuously provide affordable housing to reach a target of 220,000 units by 2030.