Housing loan scheme gets poor response
By BONNIE CHIU
APPLICATIONS for the sandwich class housing scheme closed yesterday with only six per cent of those eligible applying for the $2 billion in loans offered by the Government.
A total of 2,511 families put in a bid for the 1,000 places, but the complicated rules are likely to invalidate many of them.
Applications had to be sent by post and carry at the latest yesterday's postmark. Housing Society staff said they expected further applications to arrive today.
United Democrat legislator Li Wing-tat said the response could at best be described as acceptable: ''We don't know what went wrong, whether it is the whole idea of a low interest loan or the way it has been put through.'' Applications for the scheme opened last Monday. Successful families will be lent a maximum of $500,000 or 20 per cent of the flat's net purchase price at an interest rate of two per cent per year.
The $2 billion loan scheme operated by the Housing Society was designed by the Government to help some of the territory's 40,000 sandwich class families buy private apartments in the face of soaring property prices pushed up by speculators.
Liberal Party legislator Ronald Arculli said people should not be too critical of the scheme despite the low number of applications.
The present political and economic situation might have reduced people's desire to buy their own properties.
''The fact that some people hesitated may be due to the still unresolved issues of future political reform and the new airport,'' he said.
But Mr Arculli did criticise the criteria for the scheme, as they did not take into account all of the applicants' financial assets.
Applicants must have at least three family members and a total monthly income of between $20,000 and $40,000, but those who have owned property in Hong Kong in the past two years are disqualified.