Old departments all under one roof
The Hong Kong Housing Authority (HKHA) was established in 1973 to replace three previous government departments that had been building various forms of public housing since 1954.
The work of the Resettlement Department, the former Housing Authority, and the low-cost housing scheme which had formerly been the responsibility of the Public Works Department, was absorbed into the new HKHA.
It became responsible for advising the Governor on housing matters, and for planning, construction, management and co-ordination of all aspects of public housing and commercial, recreational and other facilities and amenities on the housing estates.
The HKHA was reorganised in 1988, and was given a separate financial identity and autonomy.
This reorganisation was to enable the HKHA to take over and implement the Government's recently announced Long-Term Housing Strategy.
In addition, the authority has the responsibility of clearing and controlling squatters.
The authority consists of 21 non-official members who are appointed for two-year terms by the Governor.
They all have broad experience in community service, and professional expertise, although not necessarily in the field of housing.
The chairman is a non-official member. In addition, four official members sit on the board.
The authority has nine permanent standing committees, each of which has been delegated a particular aspect of housing, such as home ownership, development, building and maintenance, and commercial properties.
The committees meet as required and co-opt additional members to provide specialist advice.
The authority meets quarterly to review the work of its standing committees and may, as in 1992/1993, hold special meetings in public to discuss the previous year's work and to plan ahead.
Public meetings are likely to increase as the present emphasis is on keeping the public informed.
The authority may also set up ad hoc committees to undertake special projects.
The life of these will vary.
A committee to examine sandwich class housing only lasted seven months in 1992, whereas one set up to deal with the clearance of the Kowloon Walled City began in 1987 and is still going strong.
The Housing Department is the executive arm of the HKHA, headed by the Director of Housing who is also the vice-chairman of the HKHA.
It is divided into three groups which are responsible for Administration and Policy, Construction and Housing Management.
At the end of last financial year, the staff, which covers a diverse range of skills and professions including landscape designers, architects, structural engineers, estate managers and accountants, numbered just under 13,000.