Housing affordability refers to the ability to own a residential property or dwelling that meets essential living needs with regard to its cost, quality, and location[1] . However, many individuals and families from lower and moderate incomes living in urban areas faced difficulties acquiring a home. They struggled with minimal wage gains and high living costs, discouraging them from purchasing property.

Based on the research conducted by Musaddad, Maamor and Zainol (2023) on evaluating housing affordability index in Malaysia’s Northern Region – Kedah, Perak, Perlis and Penang included revealed a decline is due to increasing income-price disparities. They recommended government intervention must set fair housing prices based on transparent supply and demand dynamics, eliminating unfair practices and exploitation.

In response, the Penang government has long been dedicating itself to cultivating a livable environment for its residents since 2008 and a total of 67,000 applicants were approved for affordable housing units. [2] The initiative continues with more affordable housing schemes for middle and lower-income households in acquiring and affording suitable housing without enduring undue financial strain.

Penang has five different affordable housing categories; Rumah Mampu Milik (RMM) priced at RM42,000 for those with a household income of RM2,500, RMM B1 at RM72,500 for household income of RM3,500, RMM C1 at RM150,000 for income of RM8,000, RMM C2 at RM200,000 for income of RM10,000 and RMM C3 at RM300,000 for income of RM12,000. The sizes of these affordable housing units range from 650 square feet to 900 square feet. [3]

According to Datuk Seri Sundarajoo Somu (PH-Perai), since 2008 until November this year, a total of RM350.9 million has been allocated for the maintenance works involving 36,172 housing schemes. Sundarajoo further claimed that residential property prices in Penang have risen proportionately with the growth in average household income. Nevertheless, in an effort to lower construction costs and make homes more affordable, the Penang government has reopened quarries for construction-related raw materials [4] .

The home ownership campaign launched in June 2021 in Penang has successfully stimulated the real estate industry. Under this initiative, the upper limits for affordable housing were set at RM270,000 on the island and RM225,000 on the mainland,” Sundarajoo continues.

Affordable housing is pivotal in achieving diverse social advantages. By reducing the financial strain on households related to housing costs, effective affordable housing policies can foster household stability, improve overall well-being, and mitigate the potential for socio-economic challenges.


[1] Musaddad, H. A., & Maamor, S., & Zainol, Z. (2023). Affordability of affordable housing in Northern Region of Malaysia. Malaysian Management Journal, 27(July), 183-209. https://doi.org/10.32890/mmj2023.27.8

[2] Lee, E. (2024). Making Penang livable. Bulletin Mutiara, January 1-15. https://www.buletinmutiara.com/making-penang-liveable/

[3] Opalyn Mok. (September 19, 2023). Penang introduces RM100,000 affordable housing category for those with RM5,000 household income. The Malay Mail. https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2023/09/19/penang-introduces-rm100000-affordable-housing-category-for-those-with-rm5000-household-income/91666#:~:text=%E2%80%9CThe%20state’s%20aim%20as%20per,the%20B40%2C%E2%80%9D%20he%20said.

[4] Trisha, N. (November 23, 2023). The Star. Reopen quarries to reduce cost of building low-cost homes, says Penang exco rep. https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2023/11/22/reopen-quarries-to-reduce-cost-of-building-low-cost-homes-says-penang-exco-rep