More surveys needed to assess affordable housing need, says World Bank

KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 12): More consumer surveys should be done to collect detailed data in order to understand the true needs of affordable housing in Malaysia, said the World Bank.

Its senior housing specialist Dao Harrison said robust assessment should be done every two to three years by third parties in order to provide an objective assessment of the housing situation.

"Why do you think fast-moving consumer goods companies do it (surveys) so often? It helps them to assess the right products to sell. The public sector should do this too, as it is I don't see them doing this enough," Harrison said at a panel session on "Navigating the Affordable Housing Market in Urban Cities" at the World Urban Forum 9 today.

On the same panel, World Bank's director of urban development Dr Sameh Naguib Wahba Tadros addressed the question on government subsidies for housing market, commenting that market inefficiencies should first be addressed.

"If you start subsiding from the onset before fixing the way the housing system addresses factors such as access to financing, all you would be subsidising are the inefficiencies of the market," said Tadros.

He added that the housing segment should see alternative solutions to cater to the rental segment.

"Home ownership is not for everyone. Usually you have a home ownership penetration of about 75%, but the rest are typically rentals taken up by those who are just starting out their career or those who can't yet afford full ownership.

"We should therefore approach housing solutions for different needs and not make a one-size fits all policy that doesn't help everyone equally," Tadros said. —

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