The city has identified 18 vacant school premises for possible rezoning in the government's latest search for more land to ease the housing shortage.
Secretary for Transport and Housing Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, who chairs the Long Term Housing Strategy Steering Committee, told the media yesterday the Development Bureau had briefed the committee on measures to increase land supply, including a new initiative of taking back disused school sites.
He did not give details on the scheme, but a committee member said a first review covering 100 vacant school buildings across the city had identified 18 sites suitable for rezoning for housing.
The sites are expected to yield about 1,900 flats.
"It's only a small supply and each site can probably hold only one apartment block. This shows that the government has exhausted all its means in boosting the short-term supply [of housing]," the member said.
The bureau plans to conduct a second review involving 68 school premises.
The review adds to a series of government measures to secure land for the short-term supply.
An ongoing approach, which is to rezone areas assigned for government and community facilities, has been met with objections in various districts.
Cheung said the committee had agreed on plans to allow "non-elderly" singles - people over the age of 35 but below 60 - to get public rental flats more quickly.
"But since the supply of new rental homes is very much limited at the moment ... we will divide these people into groups," the housing chief said.
There are 35,000 non-elderly singles among the 220,000 applicants for public rental flats, but they have to wait longer than family applicants and those older than 60, who have been given a pledge that they will receive housing within two to three years of applying.
Cheung said the committee was also expecting a consultancy study in May on people living in subdivided flats.
The consultant is working to determine the total number of such residents across the city who are considered to be in need of better accommodation.
Meanwhile, the Housing Authority received 131 applications to buy the 832 remaining surplus flats built under the Home Ownership Scheme on the first day it began to accept expressions of interest.