Low-cost housing should be first priority

Myanmar is well behind target on delivering low-cost housing units to the people who need them most, according to developers.

While authorities have commissioned several affordable projects in Yangon, the country’s commercial city still faces a housing shortage, said Cyrus Pun, head of real estate at Yoma Strategic Holdings.

He said the government should focus on the needs of the public, rather than seeking revenue through housing projects. “The government should set a target to provide housing to the public. Then it should cooperate with the private sector, invest in land and reach that target.”

According to research by the Department of Urban and Housing Development under the Ministry of Construction, Yangon has a population of nearly 5.21 million. Of these, around 1.8 million are in need of low-cost housing.

The government could do much more to help, said U Ko Ko Htwe, chair of Taw Win Family Construction, which has built several affordable housing projects.

“It is necessary to build more affordable housing. The government says that they have no land, but there is a lot of land in Yangon,” he said. “Can’t they even use 1000 acres of the land to be used for the new Yangon town project?”

The Yangon Region government has issued a tender for the development of a new town project which would expand the city to the southwest. The project will be located on an 11,716 acre site, according to an announcement in state media on July 13.

The government is building affordable housing projects and rental housing projects to meet the needs of the people, said U Tun Myint Aung, DUHD’s deputy director.

He said that affordable housing units are being sold to the public through a lottery system managed by the regional government.

Payment can be made in cash or through installments via Construction and Housing Development Bank.

However he admitted the government has been unable to provide sufficient housing to meet public demand.

Meanwhile, those in need of housing continue to wait. “I have long been applying for a room in Shwe Lin Ban low-cost housing projects. I rent a flat but the price is getting higher, so I am hoping for the day I receive a low-cost room,” said Daw Tin Mar Aung, who rents a room in Hlaing township.

Many more projects could be developed if the government called a tender for local and foreign developers to work as contractors, said Mr Pun. The contracts could be awarded to companies who could build high-quality units at a low cost, he said.

If the government decides to call such a tender, Yoma Strategic is ready to apply, he said during a press conference on August 5.

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