Long wait for families to get public rental flats
Almost a third of 16,800 household allocated public rental housing in the past year had to wait longer than the target time of three years.
Some 13 per cent of those still on the waiting list have also waited for more than the target time.
The figures emerge from two studies by the Housing Department, which found many bigger families preferred to wait longer to get into more convenient areas. The government says the future supply of public flats will improve the situation.
Results of the studies will be considered by the Housing Authority's subsidised housing committee, which meets today.
One study, the first of its kind by the department, covered general applicants who were allocated a flat between July last year and June this year.
Of 5,100 who had waited longer than three years, about half were three-member families, of whom 60 per cent wanted a flat in Kowloon or on Hong Kong Island. Flats in these areas are in shorter supply than those in more remote areas such as Tin Shui Wai and Sheung Shui.
In the other study, almost two-thirds of 11,200 families whose wait exceeded the target were from three- or four-member households. A source familiar with housing policy said a stable supply of public rental flats would improve the situation.
'Of the 75,000 flats to be provided in the next five years, 41 per cent will be for three or four-member households. This should be able to cope with the demand and keep the average waiting time of most people below three years,' the source said.
Another way to increase supply is to persuade tenants from underoccupied flats to move into smaller ones. Serious cases of under-occupation typically involve elderly tenants who are each enjoying more than 34 square metres of living space. This usually happens because those tenants are left behind by their sons and daughters who move out when they grow up.
Michael Choi Ngai-min, a member of the authority's subsidised housing panel, said it was time to consider whether it was necessary to build more than the present annual total of 15,000 flats.
He said the number of general household applicants had risen sharply in the past three years.
There are 155,600 applicants, including families and single people of working age on the waiting list.
Meanwhile, Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said in a reply to a lawmaker's question yesterday that the government had no plans to convert country park areas into sites for housing.
The number of under-occupied rented flats in the city's public estates. Housing officials say they won't force these tenants to leave