"Yes, it is a haven but...": Meanings of Home in Temporary Public Rental Housing in Sarawak (14115)
Security in housing tenure is understood to contribute to sense of home and ontological security. Most studies on the meanings of home are taken from a western context where there is security in public housing tenure usually through assistance into home-ownership or long term rental contracts. This paper contributes another view to this work, using the Malaysian context where public rental housing is intended solely for transitional purposes. The policy specifies maximum tenancy of five years after which tenants are expected to move up the housing ladder presumably using savings accumulated over the years they benefited from subsidized rental. This policy is not enforced, however. Tenants are not required to vacate their rental units after the maximum period and many stay on. Such ambiguity in housing tenure affects tenants’ sense of security. This paper discusses the effect of this policy and its non-enforcement on tenants, and on the way it mediates how meanings of home are experienced. It also includes the extent to which tenants’ housing histories contribute to their sense of home. Based on tenants’ lived experiences of home in three public rental housing estates in Sarawak, this paper uses the results of preliminary field work to show how the notion of home is understood in less secure public housing within a different social context.
Keywords: Home, Ontological security, Temporary public rental housing, Policy implementation, Sarawak