Give more public flats to singles, panel told

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 November, 2011, 12:00am


More public housing should be provided for tens of thousands of middle-aged single people on low incomes, according to housing advisers.

They are concerned that 35,000 people waiting for public rental flats, who are aged between 30 and 60, normally face delays of years before they can be housed.

The view emerged in talks at the Housing Authority and in a meeting of the housing panel of the Legislative Council yesterday.

'Some of these men and women are not well-educated, working as casual labourers and earning just six or seven thousands dollars a month,' panel chairman Lee Wing-tat said.

'But they pay almost half their income to rent a subdivided flat in the private sector.

'They may need to wait as long as 10 years to be housed and by that time they will be over 40. I don't think their housing needs are less than the general household's.'

The Housing Department's pledge of a three-year waiting time for rental flats applies only to households with two or more members and to the elderly.

Historically, only about 10 per cent of all public rental homes have been made available for non-elderly singles, a figure which grew this year to 16 per cent.

Among 155,600 applicants waiting for public rental flats, 66,600 are non-elderly singles. Of these, 35,000 are over 30. The remaining 31,600 singles are young people, 40 per cent of whom are students.

Housing Authority member Michael Choi Ngai-min said some members wanted more small flats to cater for the middle-aged singles.

'Many of us also felt that the government should raise the annual 15,000-flat-a-year construction target as the number of people on the waiting list is growing by 10 per cent each year,' Choi said.

Secretary for Housing and Transport Eva Cheng said families and old people should have priority, but she would leave it to the Housing Authority to consider if changes were necessary to help singles.