Hong Kong housing

Doubt cast over singles' bid for cheap homes

Scramble for the latest low-cost housing project raises question of how many really need help

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 September, 2015, 4:52pm

The overwhelming response from young single people to the Housing Society's latest subsidised housing scheme has raised questions about how many of them are in genuine need of low-cost homes.

The society has found that 30,400 applicants - or more than half of the 58,330 applications it received for its new Greenview Villa project in Tsing Yi - are unmarried people aged under 35.

Of these singles, 20,000 are at present living with their family in public rental or Home Ownership Scheme housing.

A quota of 10 per cent of the 988 flats are reserved for singles, with the rest for households with two or more members. Buyers will be selected in a random draw later this month.

The project accepts families earning no more than HK$40,000 a month, and singles earning up to HK$25,000 a month.

Stanley Wong Yuen-fai, a member of the Long-Term Housing Strategy Steering Committee, said the significant number of applications from young singles raised the question of how many were in genuine need of subsidised housing.

"A lot of these young people are living with their parents in public housing. Do they want the subsidised homes just for more freedom, or because they are planning to marry?" Wong asked.

"Or has the provision of subsidised housing, somewhat ironically, stimulated this demand?"

He added that the committee would look into the issue.

Society chairman Marco Wu Moon-hoi said it would review the quota for singles as well as flat designs in the future.

"Not only are there more singles, the number of two-person households has also outnumbered bigger households in the applications," he said. "It's a trend that household size in Hong Kong is getting smaller and smaller. For future projects we may provide more studio flats or one-or two-bedroom flats instead of the larger ones."

Meanwhile, the society will launch a mixed-scheme project in Shau Kei Wan at the end of the year, at full market value. Some 216 flats for private sale and 60 rental flats for old people will be up for grabs. The redevelopment was taken over from the now defunct Land Development Corporation. People who buy a flat on the upper floors will get priority for their parents to rent flats on the lower floors.