Government to survey subdivided flats, says Anthony Cheung

Institute will assess tenants living in poor conditions, to better inform housing policy

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 January, 2013, 4:24am

The government will conduct a comprehensive survey of subdivided flats and their tenants, to give advisers drawing up a long-term housing strategy more reliable data to work from.

Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung said a research institute would be commissioned to look at the number of such tenants and the conditions they live in. "I hope it will be useful to our discussion," he said. "It will be a challenging task."

Cheung's announcement, after a meeting of the Long Term Housing Strategy Committee, followed revelations that some staff of the Census and Statistics Department had faked answers in household interviews, calling into question the reliability of census data on subdivided flats.

The figures showed the number of such flats had decreased 40 per cent from 58,300 units in 2006 to 32,800 in 2011.

Cheung said the survey would be difficult, because there was no consensus on the definition of subdivided flats.

Current data also covers cage dwellers and those in cocklofts.

Cheung said he supported enforcement against subdivided flats involving illegal structures and endangering public safety, and pledged the committee would come up with a long-term policy to help those living in substandard conditions.

The committee has also endorsed the need to shorten the waiting time for single applicants over 35 who are in the queue for a public flat.

As part of the new government's plan to build more public estates, the Planning Department will propose to the Town Planning Board today the re-zoning of two sites in the New Territories for housing.

Under the proposal a public car park in Choi Yuen Road, Sheung Shui, and a vacated site to the south of Yung Shing Court, Fan Ling, would be used for 900 and 780 public flats, respectively.

Committee member Michael Choi Ngai-min said he hoped the government would allow cubicle tenants living in bad conditions to move into public flats earlier.

He also wants it to pledge a maximum three-year wait for single applicants aged over 35.

"But it all depends on how many public flats the government can supply and how fast it can deliver them," he said.

During the meeting, Choi also suggested providing housing subsidies to young people who are postponing their wedding plans because they cannot afford a flat.

But many members are understood to think that priority should be given to older age groups, rather than the younger generation.