State housing provision in Sarawak : an examination of accessibility, habitability, sustainability and affordability : the case of the Sarawak Housing and Development Commission, Malaysia
It has been widely shown that the provider-based approach to the urban low cost housing problem in the developing world has ended in failure. It has not only failed to meet the demand for such houses but the costs of producing them are so enormous that they are hard to sustain. Worse, the beneficiaries of these houses do not even meet the affordability levels required even at their subsidised selling prices. Many causes have been suggested and recommendations proffered. Yet the urban housing problem remains as acute as ever while the approach is still actively pursued by some developing countries. This research aims to examine the performance of provider-based housing policy in the context of the accessibility of the target group to the houses, the habitability of these houses in terms of their standards and quality, the sustainability of the project(s) under study, and the affordability of the households which have succeeded in getting these houses. It uses three project areas constructed by the Sarawak Housing and Development Commission (SHDC), East Malaysia, as case studies. This study stands on the premise that it is not so much the approach which is at fault but the operational environment within which it operates; namely, the political, economic and social (even cultural) context. Any approach may not succeed if it fails to take cognisance of ihe peculiarities and distinctiveness of this contextual stage. The basis of the analysis is based on two types of data. The first is mortgage data which contains all the socio-economic information (as well as loan portfolios) of the beneficiaries who have taken loans from the SHDC. This information was collected when the beneficiaries first applied for the houses, and combined with a household survey of the same beneficiaries to provide a comprehensive set of data used for the analysis. The findings of the research support the conclusions of many similar studies; that the main causes of the poor performance lies mainly on the supply side of the housing market, most of which can easily be solved; thus confirming the premise that the success or failure of any approach depends heavily on the rules within which it has to operate.