Government aims to complete housing projects earlier

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 February, 2013, 5:28am

The government is trying to complete two urban public housing projects ahead of schedule so that total production in the next five years can be raised from 75,000 to 79,000.

The plan to step up construction came as it emerged that the Housing Authority was considering raising the income limit for public rental housing applicants to take into account the effect of the minimum wage law.

The Transport and Housing Bureau said in a paper submitted to the Legislative Council yesterday that it planned to accelerate two projects, one on Anderson Road, Kowloon, and one in Tuen Mun, with 3,400 flats in all.

The projects were due for completion in the five-year programme from 2018, but the department now aims to complete them in the current five-year period that began last year.

The bureau said the change would not affect the target set by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying of at least 100,000 units in the five years from 2018.

Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung said meanwhile that all sites for the current five-year programme had been identified.

Cheung, visiting a new housing site in Choi Tak, also said the Housing Authority would start a discussion tomorrow to review the income limit for public rental housing applicants.

"Some members hold the view that the cap should be raised due to the minimum wage. I'll leave them to make recommendations," he said.

The cap, reviewed annually, at present takes into account household expenditure but not income growth.

The minimum wage law has given some low-paid people a small rise that took them out of the income band for public housing.

Authority member Michael Choi Ngai-min said more could be added to the waiting list - now 210,000 - if the cap was raised.

Meanwhile, Cheung declined to comment on rumours that the government would launch new measures on Friday to cool the property market.

The chief executive said on his blog yesterday the administration had already found suitable sites for the 75,000 new public housing flats that will be built over the five years starting from this financial year, and the 17,000 Home Ownership Scheme flats in four years from 2016 to 2020.

"The target of 75,000 public housing units in five years was only a basic one. As the work of finding sites was completed, the supplies of public housing units would be increased following the continuously increasing land supplies," Leung said.