Above-35 singles may get priority in public rental flats

Housing Authority mulls review of rental flats allocation system for not-so-young unmarried

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 November, 2012, 4:33am

Housing applicants aged above 35 may get priority over students on a long waiting list for public rental flats.

A review of the allocation system for singles - first proposed in Leung Chun-ying's election manifesto during the chief executive race - was suggested in a brainstorming session the Housing Authority held yesterday.

Authority member Wong Kwok-kin said there was an urgent need to review the system for singles. "There are more than 20,000 student applicants on the waiting list," he said.

As of June, the number of applicants for public rental housing was 199,000, of which about half were non-elderly single people. Of the non-elderly single people, roughly half were under 30.

Elderly applicants and those with family usually receive housing within three years, but non-elderly singles join a separate queue that caps the annual quota at 2,000.

"We need to distinguish the students and younger applicants from those older than 35, and give priority to the latter," authority member Michael Choi Ngai-min said. "Because when these students graduate and find a job, they will easily exceed the income limits [imposed on rental flats]."

Choi suggested launching a review in line with the work of the new Long Term Housing Strategy Committee, which is assessing housing demands of different population groups.

The authority also discussed redeveloping several old housing estates to accommodate more flats on the sites.

Meanwhile, the government signalled its willingness to increase public housing supply after it identified suitable sites from the land sale list, said Frederick Fung Kin-kee, deputy chairman of the Legislative Council housing panel.

Fung was among about 20 members of the panel invited to a luncheon by Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung yesterday.

The government's current target is to complete construction of 15,000 public flats a year - a grossly insufficient amount in the face of increasing demand.

Separately, Cheung told reporters there had been occasions the government took land from the land sale list for public housing. "But there is demand for both public housing and private ones. The government needs to make considerations," he said.

Some property market watchers have warned that changing sites already earmarked for sale to public housing use would reduce private housing supply and push up property prices.