Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Ministry plans housing for under K10m

The construction ministry has drafted an urgent plan to build 8000 low-cost housing units in Yangon to be sold for less than K10 million each to the city’s low-income residents.

Housing will be built in Mingaladon and Dagon Seikkan townships, said U Min Htein, director general of the ministry’s Department of Urban and Housing Development (DUHD).

He did not want to disclose the exact locations for fear that squatters would move to the area and demand compensation when construction began.

“If trespassers move to the locations it will be difficult to start work. We will build the housing quickly,” he said. The land in both townships is owned by the government.

Each of the 8000 apartments will be 400 square feet in size, in four-storey buildings of six rooms per floor, and five-storey buildings of eight rooms per floor. The project will take two years to finish, U Min Htein said.

“It is a government priority to build new low-cost housing projects for less than K10 million,” said U Yu Khine, a DUHD director. “Trespassing problems will be solved by the Yangon minister.”

Houses priced at K10 million would be slightly more affordable than “low-cost” housing built by the former government, but still well out of the price-range of the city’s poorest residents.

Around 1.8 million of Yangon’s 5.21 million residents need housing, according to the 2014 nationwide census, while demand for new accommodation is 3.5 times higher than supply.

The government has tried to bridge the gap by building “low-cost” projects, but these are usually for-profit, and apartments are often snapped up by speculators.

Under the former government units were sold through a lottery system and buyers could pay in instalments, but were required to make a 40 percent upfront payment.

This ruled out everyone who really needed housing, said Daw Ohmar Myint, who submitted an application for a unit in the Shwe Lin Pan low-cost housing project, but was not successful. The new government should rethink the way housing is allocated and funded, she said.

“I am renting a house at the moment. Though I have applied for every low-cost housing project, I have never won the lottery. I have read in the newspaper that many of the winners did not come forward to claim the apartments,” she said.

“I would ask the government to review the lottery system, and the cost of the initial payment and instalments. I hope that people without homes will get the 8000 new apartments.”

The DUHD has forecast that to meet demand 100,000 apartments would need to be built each year – a target that is well beyond the government’s capability and budget.

Translation by Khant Lin Oo