Lae’s Working Class Seek Cheaper Housing in Settlements

By Bethanie Harriman – EMTV, Lae

Over the last 12 months, there has been growing public concern about the rising cost of living in Lae City; with much emphasis on the high rentals in the real estate industry. 

A trend is showing an increasing amount of Papua New Guinean professionals, and their families, now living in rental homes near and in, Lae’s urban settlements, known for their petty crime.

Veia Steven is a customs officer and the wife of an electrician. She says, living near a settlement means constant fear for the family’s safety, but the search for a cheaper place to live has brought them to this house.

“The standard of living is high and accomadtion is a big problem, I am happy with this home and can afford it for my family and I,” says Mrs Steven.

Families describe the fear of walking along streets that share boundaries with settlements as “menacing for women and girls”.

Over the last twelve months, Lae residents have called on the government to regulate the industry. The issue of the high cost of housing rental has also drawn political attention.

On the tenth of this month, Housing Minister, Paul Isikiel,said the government won’t regulate the industry.
Instead they they will bring in investors to build more homes and dilute the market.

“You will find that the Real Estate price will naturally drop on the long run,” says Minister Isikiel.

The cost of renting a residential home in one of Lae’s prime suburbs in Town, Eriku or the market area has exceeded the amount of income that many Papua New Guinean’s receive fortnightly.

According to real estate agents, the average cost of renting a home is now at K3,000 per month, compared to five years ago at an average of K1,500 per month.

The 50 per cent increase over the ten years was fuelled by the economic growth Lae has experienced in Morobe’s mining sector.

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