PENANG: The Penang government has created a new category of housing applicants for affordable homes – the talented and skilled.
State housing exco Jagdeep Singh Deo said the new category was for knowledge workers who were employed and voting in Penang.
Non-Penangites are also eligible if they can show proof that they have been staying and working in the state for the last five years and have registered as voters there.
Jagdeep said the proposal to create this new category came from state investment authority investPenang, which had conducted a survey that showed Penang would be needing knowledge workers to fill in 13,088 new jobs in engineering, accountancy and technology in the private sector by 2017.
InvestPenang has proposed that the state also look into catering housing for those with talent and skill, who are knowledge workers with either a diploma with a minimum two years work experience or a minimum bachelor degree recognised by the government.
InvestPenang also proposed that the five-year requirement be waived for knowledge workers coming from other states, and priority be given to applications for affordable homes close to their workplaces.
"The proposal has its merits and is in line with the state government's aspiration to be an international intelligent city. We welcome individuals with talents and skills to Penang as they will contribute to making this aspiration a reality.
"The Selection Process Enhancement Committee (SPEC) has agreed to adopt this proposal, subject to all other eligibility criterion being met. But to avoid this new category from being abused, applicants must stay in Penang for a minimum of five years from the date of the handover of keys of the said affordable housing unit," he told a press conference at Komtar today.
All applications, Jagdeep said, are to be sent to investPenang for vetting before the shortlisted applicants will be considered by SPEC, which oversees the entire mechanism of selection and make recommendations as to how to enhance its efficacy and ensure only the targeted actual needy and deserving applicant is allocated such a housing unit, may it be a low-cost, low-medium cost or affordable home.
The two-tiered selection process was necessary, as it remains to be the state's priority to first allocate homes to the more needy and deserving applicants such as single mothers, the infirmed, the disabled and those displaced due to development.
"We are not reserving a certain percentage of projects for this new category but we will consider the applications on a case to case basis, as we also have to cater to the already existing applicants on the housing waiting list," he said.
Jagdeep said in defining talent and skill, the state also recognised that an applicant's abilities may not fall into the three categories chosen by investPenang.
He said applicants with talents and skills in various other fields can also apply to be considered for affordable housing by sending their applications to investPenang.