Tsang unveils home building plans for poor
Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen delivered his final policy address at the Legislative Council yesterday, seeking to tackle growing concerns about Hong Kong's housing problem and ageing population.
With the spotlight currently on skyrocketing home prices, Tsang focused on tackling the housing problem affecting low- and middle-income households.
During the policy address, the chief executive announced that 75,000 public rental housing units would be completed in five years, and the extra supply meant the usual three-year waiting period would be maintained.
Tsang said 17,000 Home Ownership Scheme flats would be available over four years, starting from the 2016-2017 financial year.
A 400 to 500 sq ft flat, under the Home Ownership Scheme, will cost about HK$1.5 to HK$2 million.
Tsang has also enhanced the My Home Purchase Plan - overriding the 'Rent and Buy' policy, potential buyers will now be able to acquire a flat at the initial market price.
To address the problem as related to young people, Tsang said the government would help build hostels for single youths.
Baptist University's associate professor of social work, Dr Sam Yu, said the government's moves were a good sign it recognised the need for subsidised homes in Hong Kong.
Yet he said the main issue was that no one knew how many households and families would be eligible and in need of the scheme.
'Step one is done. Step two is that the government needs to do a survey,' he said.
Yu also cast doubt on the supply of public rental housing.
'Many pressure groups doubt if the three-year waiting period is true because many people are on the list,' he said.
One-person families were also left out of the policy address, according to Yu - such applicants are usually disadvantaged in the current points system, and it takes more than five years for them to be accommodated.
On elderly welfare, Tsang proposed a HK$2-a-ride concession for elderly and disabled people on all MTR lines, franchised buses and ferries.
Tsang admitted that swimming pools were the most commonly used facility among seniors, so a monthly ticket scheme would be put in place for frequent elderly swimmers in Hong Kong.