Many in KL deprived of basic necessities

Many in KL deprived of basic necessities
Pak Man with the house he built in the background.

Shelter, food, clean water, sanitation and clothing are among the most basic necessities everyone should be entitled to, even those living below the poverty line.

Unfortunately, there are many people deprived of such basic necessities, even in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.

Some of the homeless band together for safety and create communities that can be found under bridges or along the pavements at night.

Due to the high cost of living in the city and ever-increasing rental rates, these homeless people, who mostly earn RM10 (S$ 4)a day, cannot afford a room.

The government's Housing Project for the Hardcore Poor (PPRT) was created to help these people but, somehow, those who really need it are finding it highly impossible to get.

A recent visit by StarMetro to the streets of Kuala Lumpur showed just how serious and long the wait for PPRT rental units really is.

From the visit, three different scenarios were uncovered.

Giving up hope

Hidden in a corner called Kampung Periuk, is a shabby looking shack made out of zinc and wood.

Looking a little slanted from the outside, the colourful wooden house built on stilts comes with a makeshift toilet outside the house.

Though it may not look like much, it is a place that quite a number of the homeless seek shelter and call home.

It is a place of refuge, especially to the homeless women and children, whose sleeping options are usually limited to the five-foot-ways or under the bridges beside the river.

With no money to rent a proper place to sleep, they temporarily move into the wooden house built by a homeless man who calls himself Pak Man.

"I have given up waiting for a PPRT flat, it took too long and one day, I just got fed up and decided to take matters into my own hands," Pak Man said.

The 57-year-old, who has been homeless for about 10 years, explained that the never-ending wait for PPRT flats is torturous and when he could wait no longer, he decided to just build his own home.

Completed three years ago, the wooden house is made of unwanted wood and zinc that Pak Man finds along the roadside and near construction sites.

"It was really hard to build the house as I had neither help nor experience, so I spent some time watching how the workers do things at construction sites.

"Then I improvised and just started building and now it is a house," he said.

Coming all the way here from Kedah in 1988 to try and make a better living, the father-of-one said he used to work and rent a room in the city.

But as the cost of living increased, his finances became tighter and soon he could no longer afford the increasing rent.

Pak Man had previously worked as a security guard, at a steamboat restaurant and also sold roast chicken.

Ten years ago, he got laid off after not being paid for several months.

"I couldn't take living on the streets as it was not the safest place.

"Every once in a while, we get disturbed by the authorities who tell us to leave if we sleep on the street," he said.

Every now and then, Pak Man's house is used by the homeless community as a hideaway from raids and operations conducted by the authorities.

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