Beijing opens public housing to migrants

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 October, 2011, 12:00am


Migrants will be among the beneficiaries of a public housing scheme for low-income groups launched by the Beijing municipal government.

It is the first time migrants will be able to enjoy subsidised housing in the capital, even though they make up a third of its residents. Until now only those with a Beijing household registration, or hukou, have been entitled to subsidised housing schemes introduced by the government.

Over the past few years many cities have provided low-rent housing or given housing subsidies to hukou holders on low incomes, most of whom also benefit from schemes to maintain minimum living standards. However, migrants, even if they have lived and worked in a city for years, have not been entitled to any type of housing or social welfare.

The other two types of subsidised housing - economically affordable housing and fixed-price housing - are also reserved for Beijing residents with hukou.

From December 1, both Beijing hukou holders and non-hukou holders can apply for public rental housing.

Holders of a Beijing hukou whose current accommodation provides less than 15 square metres of living space per person and whose an annual income is below 100,000 yuan (HK$122,000) for a three-member household, or 130,000 yuan for a four-member household, are eligible to apply.

However, the scheme's rules are vague on the criteria for applicants without hukou.

They say such applicants must meet requirements such as 'having stable jobs in Beijing for a certain period of time ... with stable income', and be able to provide proof of their temporary residence, pension payments and membership of social insurance schemes. The rules also say that neither non-hukou holders applying for the scheme, nor their families, can own property in the city.

Individual district and county governments will stipulate additional requirements according to their own economic and industrial development, the capacity of their environment and population, as well as the availability of housing.

At a municipal government press conference on Wednesday, Zou Jinsong, a housing official, also said the focus of Beijing's policy-backed housing programme would shift from selling low-cost homes to providing rental accommodation.

Zou said that between this year and 2015, the city would build 300,000 public rental homes.

The latest census shows that, in November 2010, Beijing had a population of 19.6 million, of whom seven million had household registrations elsewhere.

Public security authorities devised the system of household registration half a century ago to prevent internal migration, especially by rural people seeking jobs in cities.