Pontianak renovates homes for the poor
The Pontianak municipality in West Kalimantan is still meeting its target of renovating thousands of homes categorized as unfit for habitation as part of its poverty alleviation program, the funds of which are derived from the municipal budget and assistance from the Public Housing Ministry and Social Affairs Ministry, as well as corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds from the private sector.
Pontianak Mayor Sutarmidji on Tuesday received CSR funds for the housing renovation program from private firm PT Diamond Indosatria for 10 underprivileged residents, each receiving Rp 7.5 million (about US$833) per home.
“We urge the private sector to participate in the program. We will together reduce the poverty rate, so as to gradually create a favorable business climate,” said Sutarmidji.
The Pontianak municipality has set aside Rp 2 billion from the city budget annually to renovate homes unfit for habitation, while funds derived from the Public Housing Ministry are managed by the Independent Community Board (BKM), so the municipality only supervises its implementation.
Sutarmidji said the housing issue was very complex, as it was not only concerned with unfit homes, but also with issues of nutrition, healthcare and education of low-income families.
He expects the program will get the attention of various stakeholders, including the business sector, community as well as non-governmental organizations.
“The municipality will continue with the next aspects of the program, such as education and healthcare for family members, in a sustainable manner if the housing program has been completed,” said Sutarmidji.
One of the recipients of the assistance is 71-year-old Abubakar, who is no longer able to work and therefore could not afford to renovate his rundown home as he was reliant on support from his children.
“I have great difficulties in renovating my house, especially as I no longer work. I am very grateful for the assistance,” said Abubakar.
Pontianak municipal councilor Arif Joni Prasetyo said the Pontianak municipality had set a target that by 2013, the city would be free of homes unfit for habitation. He acknowledged, however, that the goal was no easy task.
“If the municipality only relies on the annual allocation of Rp 2 billion, the target is obviously hard to achieve. So, it is necessary to encourage public participation, such as from the business sector, including state enterprises and provincial enterprises,” said Arif.
He added that district and subdistrict chiefs in the city had again been instructed to make inventories of residents living in unfit homes, including complete data on their names, addresses, number of family members and occupation. Counseling is crucial, so that after their homes have been renovated, they need no longer require financial assistance.
“The counseling is aimed at helping them get a decent job and salary so they can be lifted out of poverty. The program is only deemed effective if those who have been assisted become independent and are lifted out of poverty,” said Arif.
The municipality disbursed Rp 2 billion for 260 homes in 2011 and another Rp 2 billion this year for 276 homes. The housing program has been carried out since 2009, and 2,090 unfit home units had been renovated as of 2011.
From the NGO sector, the Dompet Ummat (DU) charity group is involved in the program. West Kalimantan DU director Viryan A. said the housing renovation program was part of a process to fulfill the basic needs of people, because a home was part of the basic necessities
of a family.
“We renovate the homes on a case by case basis, for example in 2007 we carried out a major renovation on a house that had almost collapsed,” said Viryan.
Those who receive assistance from DU live in extremely deprived conditions. DU has also rebuilt and renovated homes through community self help.
“We encourage local residents to chip in and care about their less fortunate neighbors. Although the fund raising is still not adequate, DU helps with finances on the condition that residents of the area must be involved in a spirit of mutual cooperation,” said Viryan.