TWENTY-six-year-old teacher Erica Yoon was excited when I met her at the launch of 1Malaysia Housing Programme (PR1MA) in Seremban Utara last Saturday.

The Bahasa Melayu primary school teacher in Seremban was looking forward to buying her dream home from one of the two types of houses offered by PR1MA (terrace and townhouse) there.

When asked why, Erica said it was hard for her to buy a house with her salary which is less than RM3,000 per month. Although single, she has multiple commitments.

The Sikamat-hailed lass is not alone, as she belongs to a group of trapped middle-income earners who are unable to buy low-cost houses or high-end homes.

This group’s woes was addressed in the 2013 Budget when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced that RM1.9 billion would be allocated to build 123,000 affordable houses in strategic locations across Malaysia under PR1MA.

A total of RM500 million would be spent by PR1MA to build 80,000 houses in major locations nationwide, sold at between RM100,000 and RM400,000 per unit. In addition, PR1MA will provide the Housing Facilitation Fund, totalling RM500 million, to build houses in collaboration with private developers.

“I always wanted to buy a house but never thought that I would be able to afford it, but now I can as the PR1MA Seremban Utara unit costs less than RM200,000 and its beautiful design bowled me over,” said Erica.

Negri Sembilan has the honour of being the first state for a major launch for PR1MA projects when in September last year, Najib announced the PR1MA Seremban during his “Jelajah Janji DiTepati” tour to the state in Paroi.

Last Saturday this promise was kept when Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan launched the PR1MA Seremban Utara which offers about 6,000 units of affordable homes for people like Erica who earn a monthly income of between RM2,500 and RM7,500.

Would-be residents would not be caught in traffic jams as a RM158 million federal grant would be used to build a dedicated interchange to link the project to the Kajang-Seremban Highway (Lekas) and upgrade existing town roads to Seremban.

The value of the PR1MA houses there, which is the first to be fully developed by PRIMA instead of using private developers, is expected to rise as the project will be built in soon-to-be-developed RM5 billion township called Resort City by Lapangan Kota Sdn Bhd.

On Sunday, the Prime Minister launched another project, the PR1MA Seremban Sentral, the first high-rise affordable homes in the country which will offer about 5,000 units of apartments between 500 and 1,250 sq ft in size per unit.

The project will be built within the high-rise blocks of the RM2.5 billion Seremban Sentral, touted to be the next KL Sentral which is an integrated hub for transportation, residental, commercial and retail activities.

It is estimated that over 90,000 Seremban residents commute on a daily basis to the Klang Valley via the KTM Komuter service and major highways, and the Seremban Sentral is set to boost that volume even further to the point of it becoming the Southern transportation hub.

The announcement of the 11,000 units of PR1MA homes has already created a buzz in the state, with local youth already making enquiries on how to buy the houses.

Twenty-seven-year-old project engineer, Syahril Amri Abdul Malek, from Bukit Chedang, is looking forward to buy the PR1MA Seremban Sentral unit as he is interested in the “city living” lifestyle with a garden, mall, education campus, health and medical facilities, and a hotel right at his doorstep.

“PR1MA Seremban Sentral is totally different as it is a project that you would expect to see in Kuala Lumpur or the Klang Valley but not in the sleepy hollow of Seremban. This project will make Seremban a vibrant, exciting, happening city and bring young professionals to live here,” said Syahril who oversees a project site in Bandar Tun Hussein Onn at Cheras Selatan.

Aside from this two projects, PR1MA affordable homes would also be built at Seremban 2, Senawang and Rasah, and is set to help Mohamad’s dream to turn the state capital of Negri Sembilan into the country’s 12th city and the next “Klang Valley”.

Mohamad’s all out effort to realise this dream even garnered recognition from the PR1MA chief executive officer who said the main reason they choose Seremban Utara as its first PR1MA-developed project is because of Mohamad’s help to speed up all processes for the development.

With the two PR1MA projects launched and three more in the pipeline, it is just a matter of years before Seremban becomes the most-sought after township for middle income earners who work in the Klang Valley.