Housing boss predicts more vacant public flats
Construction of new public rental flats may not be needed in the long run as more tenants move out to take advantage of subsidised schemes, the housing chief said yesterday.
But Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands Michael Suen Ming-yeung said the government would not stop building the flats in the foreseeable future.
Mr Suen, who announced a nine-point package on Wednesday to revive the sluggish property market, said the vacated flats could be reallocated to applicants on the waiting list.
There are about 650,000 public rental flats with 100,000 families on the waiting list. About 5,000 tenants a year move out of their flats.
Housing Authority member Wong Kwan said Mr Suen's remarks indicated that the government wanted to increase the rate at which it offloaded the burden of public housing.
'The government has been replacing provision of public housing with loan schemes and rent subsidies,' Mr Wong said.
Under a scheme introduced by the Housing Authority last year, cash vouchers are issued to elderly applicants on the waiting list to allow them to rent a flat on the private market. Housing officials plan to extend the scheme to all applicants.
Mr Wong said he expected the government to tighten the qualifications over applying for public rental flats.
Meanwhile, Mr Suen said that with the Home Ownership Scheme being suspended indefinitely next year, there was room for cutting staff numbers in the Housing Department.