Families hoping for better housing disappointed

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 January, 2013, 3:15am

Working class families who have waited years for public housing and members of the middle class struggling to buy their first home expressed disappointment with the policy address.

The chief executive said the government had managed to secure enough land to develop 75,000 new public housing flats over the next five years, in line with predecessor Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's target, with an increase to at least 100,000 over the five years from 2018.

But Hu Guizhen, 39, said she remained pessimistic about the possibility of ever moving her family of four out of the 80 sq ft subdivided flat in a dilapidated Sham Shui Po tenement where they have lived for six years.

"[Leung] just gave us false hope by saying he would speed up the building of public housing. [The pace] has turned out to be the same as under Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's administration," Hu said.

She and her family pay HK$1,500 a month from the HK$12,000 her husband earns as a driver. They have been waiting for public housing for six years.

With no news of one-off relief measures, Hu, who moved from Zhaoqing , Guangdong, in 2006, said she found Leung's welfare policy and planning "vague".

She questioned the promise of more homes after 2018, as Leung's first term ends in 2017.

Like Hu, Chu Xiu-xing sees little hope of an end to her seven years of sharing a subdivided hut on a rooftop in Mong Kok with her husband and eight-year-old son.

"I'm frankly quite disappointed. There really isn't much hope of getting public housing soon now - I don't want to wait for another seven years," she said. The family, which spends HK$2,000 of its HK$10,000 monthly income on the hut, has been in the public housing queue for three years.

There was also little comfort for members of the so-called sandwich class - those too well off to qualify for subsidised housing but too poor to buy.

Joanna Wong Yin-na, 32, is hoping to have HK$2 million saved within three years, to serve as a down payment for a flat. She and her husband earn about HK$60,000 per month, way above the limit to take advantage of the Home Ownership Scheme, which was recently increased from HK$30,000 to HK$40,000. She had been hoping the government would offer cheap home loans for families like hers.

"There is nothing for us, although we are taxpayers. I only hope the government can lend money to first-time homebuyers like us," said Wong, a cosmetics procurer and mother of a two-year-old daughter.

Although the couple earn HK$60,000 a month they fear the HK$14,000 rent on their flat in Tseung Kwan O will be increased.

Wong was also unimpressed by Leung's drive to increase the supply of land for homes, because she believes mainland investors will continue to push up property prices. "There are hundreds of thousands of mainlanders coming to buy flats. How can the land supply ever match the keen demand?"