RM200 rental help and a new housing scheme

You can spend the money on new housing for the poor and homeless or you can spend it on a golf course or a football stadium.

— Jello Biafra, American singer

It is very important for Sarawakians to keep updated on new government schemes and plans formulated to assist them, the needy in particular.

More often than not, the public are unaware of the existence of such schemes through no fault of theirs perhaps. Along the way, the communication chain somehow has not worked as well as anticipated.

This is something which Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian is aware of. He is doing his best to ensure that new plans drawn up by his Public Health, Housing and Local Government Ministry to benefit the people are made known to the people at large.

“The ministry staff have worked very hard to introduce new schemes and packages to benefit Sarawakians. It is our job to help our fellow citizens and we want to ensure that our needy get all the help to lead a normal life.

“It is the duty of us in the government to ease the sufferings of the people. We will do so and any new schemes introduced by the ministry must benefit the people to the maximum.

“Only then can we say that we have done our best for the people we have pledged to serve,” Sim told the New Sarawak Tribune.

Sarawakians can appreciate the determination of the newly-minted deputy chief minister to ensure that the people really benefit from the government’s assistance plans.

Dr Sim was not too happy with the lukewarm response to the Sarawak Rental Assistance Scheme (SRAS), introduced last October.

It was targeted to benefit some 20,000 eligible Sarawakians but so far, only 790 applications have been approved. This is due to the low number of applicants.

The minister urged those eligible to apply for SRAS worth RM200 per month for up to three years.

The rental assistance is open to tenants working in Kuching, Sibu, Bintulu and Miri whose household income does not exceed RM2,131 per month.

Applicants are required to complete the application forms obtainable from the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) offices throughout Sarawak.

Dr Sim urged the public to notify those in need of the SRAS assistance of the availability of the scheme.

On Feb 7, Dr Sim was also happy to reveal another government assistance scheme, the Housing Deposit Assistance Scheme (HDAS) which is aimed at helping B40, M40 groups purchase first home while boosting the local economy.

Launching the HDAS, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg said that Sarawak is the first in the country to offer HDAS where first-time homeowners under the B40 and M40 categories can receive an assistance of up to RM10,000 for the payment of housing deposits.

He said the scheme will drive the state’s construction sector to look into building more houses which in turn will attract more buyers.

“It will also affect the supply chains in the housing industry and as such, we are creating wealth for these groups of people including the homebuyers who will now have their own assets.

“If they can purchase affordable houses, they don’t have to rent. They would just have to pay the monthly instalment after the deposit is paid by the government through HDAS,” the chief minister said at the launching.

Explaining the HDAS further, Dr Sim said that the scheme is open to all permanent residents of Sarawak, categorised under the B40 and M40 group, who are first-time house buyers.

Even a 100 per cent housing loan can be offered to eligible applicants.

Again, Dr Sim appealed to the public to help disseminate information on the scheme to Sarawakians at large so that more people could benefit.

I think this is where NGOs and others are able to help those requiring such government assistance.

NGOs and social groups are only able to do as much to help the less fortunate, as they are mostly volunteers with limited resources.

At times, it is better to help direct the needy towards government schemes and assist them to apply for such assistance.

On welfare work, I believe it will work out to the benefit of the less fortunate if volunteer social workers and NGOs work closely with government agencies.

At the end of it all, our intention is to help alleviate the suffering of the poor and needy. Let’s work together for the betterment of our community, our fellow citizens and our homeland.

The views expressed here are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the views of New Sarawak Tribune.

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