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When the Penang government allowed the maximum density of 30 homes per acre for residential properties to be raised to 87 homes per acre in 2010, the argument was that the higher density would allow developers to build more affordable homes. Yeah, right. (Did you really believe that at the time?)

Take a look at this report below, now. Five major developers are now focusing on homes with prices ranging from RM480,000 to RM3.3m. The question is, just whom are they building for? The ordinary people of Penang? I think not.

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Great news! What a world of difference.

This was what the Taman Tun Dr Awang flats in Butterworth looked like before (see below) when I tweeted about it a month ago, after yet another foreign visitor, this time from Singapore, asked why the the powers that be were not doing anything about it.

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From our last poll, it appears that almost 60 per cent of you felt that affordable housing would be any home priced up to RM240000 rather than RM400000. (Mind you, this would be what is affordable to the middle class rather than the low-income group, who would struggle to buy even a RM72000 home.)

This figure of RM240000 also tallies with a Penang Institute researcher’s opinion that the price of an affordable home should be between RM180,000 and RM240,000, three to four times the average household yearly income (based on about RM5000 per month in 2012), in line with the international yardstick for what constitutes an affordable price for a home.

Is that why there is a glut in ‘affordable housing’? (Because many would be unable to afford housing from RM240000 to RM400000.)

Let’s do another poll of monthly household income (husband and wife’s combined income only) and see if that supports the finding in the earlier poll and compare the outcome to the eligibility criteria of income thresholds for ‘affordable housing’ as laid out by the state government. But bear in mind that based on the demographic profile of readers of this blog, the poll result would probably be skewed towards the incomes of the middle- to upper-middle class strata of the population.

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If not for the initiative taken by the Pepper Estates residents committtee, the unity of the residents themselves, and the assistance of the elected reps for the area, the residents might not have achieved a satisfactory deal.

The residents grouped together and formed an association and hired an excellent, hardworking and honest lawyer. By the residents staying together and insisting on adequate compensation, they achieved it. Some important lessons to be learned here in dealing with developers.

A Pepper Estate resident reports on the compensation agreement:

It is almost three years since Beverley Heights Properties Sdn Bhd (BHP) bought the land known as Pepper Estate (about 30 acres in Tanjung Tokong) in May 2012.