PETALING JAYA: There is new hope for those in the B40 bracket to put a roof of their own over their heads, following the launch of the Yayasan My First Home initiative yesterday.

This is especially so for those who have been blacklisted and are unable to get a housing loan, as Yayasan My First Home will help them get approval on their loan applications.

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Al-Musta’in Billah, who officially launched the programme yesterday, lauded the initiative by BCorp founder and chairman Tan Sri Vincent Tan, calling it a “noble cause”.

“I understand the feeling of relief and satisfaction of the lower income group in owning a house, especially in Pahang because I had helped 10 families who were affected by the floods there rebuild their houses using my own (funds). I am grateful and proud to launch this initiative,” he said.

The King also called on other agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGO) and philanthropists to join the initiative.

Tan said owning a home is a basic need for everyone.

“It is essential for a person’s sense of dignity, security and inclusion in the community,” he said, adding that with housing costs rising faster than incomes, affordability is a key issue for the low-income group and most B40 households would not be able to purchase a home without some form of financial assistance.

The foundation aims to help those who have been blacklisted to be creditworthy again by resolving their credit issues with their lenders and creditors.

“When we first embarked on our mission to assist the B40s and low-income Malaysians to buy their own homes, we learned that around 50% to 60% of those who have been allotted a low-cost affordable house could not get their housing loans approved due to poor credit rating and being blacklisted by credit agencies like CTOS and other lenders for non-payment of their commitments to credit card companies, hire purchase and other instalment payment plans that they had signed up for.

“Regrettably, these defaulters are often blacklisted and classified as non-creditworthy even when the amount outstanding and owed by them is relatively small,” he added.

Deemed a difficult task by many, Tan believes that the programme will be able to help such individuals obtain a housing loan with the assistance and cooperation of the financial institutions, as Yayasan My First Home wants to show the banks that most of the lower income groups are worthy of a full housing loan.

Tan said Yayasan My First Home will be working with CTOS to help remove such borrowers from the blacklist.

Yayasan My First Home trustee Datin Seri Sunita Rajakumar said they will also be working with NGO to address the circumstances affecting people being blacklisted.

“One of the root causes of people being blacklisted is (a lack of) financial literacy, and we are working with some NGO on a financial literacy programme so that when these people are no longer blacklisted, they will not return to being on the list,” she said.

Yayasan My First Home is inviting the government, financial institutions, NGO and the general public to join its efforts and work together on innovative ideas and initiatives that would collectively bring about much needed change in resolving the issue of affordable housing.

As a personal commitment, Tan has pledged RM5 million to Yayasan My First Home from his personal foundation, the Better Malaysia Foundation, of which he is chairman.

“This RM5 million donation should be sufficient to enable Yayasan My First Home to fund its initial plans. However, the Yayasan will need more money as we move forward to enable it to fulfil its objective of helping our less privileged fellow Malaysians to have their own home,” Tan said.

“We will be approaching the Malaysian public and corporations for donations to Yayasan My First Home and I sincerely hope that all of you will donate generously to this worthy cause.”

“As the saying goes: ‘Alone we can do so little. Together, we can do so much’.”