74,600 government flats to be built in next 5 years

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 January, 2011, 12:00am

Nearly 75,000 government flats for low-income families will be built in the coming five years, according to the housing minister, who also indicated that the average waiting time of about three years for such families to move into the subsidised units would not change.

'If we can build about 15,000 units a year and gain back 15,000 flats [from occupants who are moving out], we can achieve the [waiting time] target of around three years,' the Secretary for Transport and Housing Eva Cheng said at a Legislative Council housing panel meeting yesterday.

The housing bureau forecast that about 74,600 of the public rental flats would be built by 2015. This includes the completion of about 13,800 flats this year and 11,200 flats next year.

About 90 per cent of these flats will be located in urban or suburban areas, it said.

At the meeting, some legislators expressed concern about whether there would be sufficient land supply for the housing. Sophie Leung Lau Yau-fun, lawmaker for the textiles and garments functional constituency, asked if the government would consider reclaiming land.

Cheng said the government would explore the feasibility of reclaiming land near Tung Chung on Lantau Island and study the possibility of another station on the Tung Chung MTR line.

In response to concerns from Liberal Party lawmaker Vincent Fang Kang about the increasing number of single younger people queuing for government flats, the housing minister said the surging demand had brought added pressure.

'I agree that this creates pressure and has to be dealt with,' Cheng said.

She said about one-tenth of the public rental flats were allocated to single people under the age of 60. For those in urgent need, their cases are considered under the Compassionate Rehousing scheme.

There were about 137,000 applications on the waiting list for public rental flats at the end of September, government statistics released last month showed.

Of these, over 41 per cent, or 57,000 applications, were filed by single people under 60, compared with 75,000 family applications and 5,000 elderly one-person applications.

The bureau also said there were about 5,600 households classed as under-occupied, where those living inside had over 323 square feet per person in living area and were without elderly or disabled occupants.

Director of housing Duncan Pescod said the department wanted to resolve 3,000 cases of under-occupation in the next two years, involving flats where there were no elderly or disabled tenants and the living area exceeded 366 sq ft per person.

Under the Housing Authority's standards, single occupants of government flats should have less than 269 sq ft, while two people no more than 377 sq ft.