Poor will still get priority for public rental flats
Low-income families will continue to be the government's priority in providing public rental flats, the housing chief says, in an apparent rejection of calls to provide such flats for middle-class people squeezed out of the soaring private market.
Duncan Pescod, the permanent secretary for transport and housing (housing), said widening the eligibility for such flats would just make the waiting lists longer.
'In view of our limited resources, we simply must prioritise,' Pescod said at a meeting of the Housing Authority.
'In this regard, provision of flats for low-income families to meet their housing needs should remain our primary task in accordance with the law and long-established practice.
'We should not forget that there are still around 130,000 applicants on the waiting list and more will join the list in the years to come. If the eligibility criteria are relaxed, those people in genuine need will have to wait longer for allocation.'
The government's target is to keep the average waiting time for families seeking flats in public housing estates at three years.
Pescod was responding after some members of the authority called last month for the criteria to be relaxed.
One member, legislator Dr Joseph Lee Kok-long, said more people should be allowed to apply for public rental flats, as property prices had soared to a level where middle-class people found it difficult to buy or rent a private flat.
Responding to worries that the land supply for public estates would be affected if the Home Ownership Scheme (HOS) was resumed, Pescod pledged that the authority's objective to provide public rental housing for low-income people would not be affected, no matter what the outcome of the consultation on subsidising home ownership.
Yesterday, many people rushed to the authority's offices to meet the deadline for applying for the last batch of 3,219 HOS flats, excluding over 800 flats in Tin Chung Court that were pulled out because of a management fee row.
Chan Nap-ming, assistant director of housing, said that as of Wednesday over 140,000 people had visited the show flats, compared with 190,000 visitors in the previous flat sale.
But market watchers say the number of applicants could reach a record high, as many want to give it a final shot before stocks are cleared.
'I think it will be more difficult to win a chance to buy an HOS flat than winning the Mark Six,' a woman said.
Jeffery Yeung, 29, knows the chances of getting a flat just for himself are slim, but he still wants to try.
'Flat prices are now too high. I will just file the application first and decide later which type of flat I will select,' he said.
The 3,219 flats are priced between HK$302,400 HK$3.28 million after discounts.