More young people drawn to public rental housing

Housing Department survey finds rapidly increasing number of young people applying for rental housing in order to live on their own

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 January, 2014, 2:58am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 October, 2016, 2:38pm

Steadily growing numbers of young people are applying for public rental housing, with most citing a desire to live on their own.

This was shown by the Housing Department's latest findings in its annual survey of applicants on the public housing waiting list.

It comes as government housing advisers continue to favour giving public housing priority to elderly people and families.

Of 228,400 applicants on the waiting list at the end of March last year, 60,400 were aged below 30. The number had grown from 16,500 in 2009 to 45,700 in 2012.

In the survey, conducted every year since 2000, the department interviewed 3,000 applicants by telephone from late February to early April last year.

Of the young applicants, just over half were students. More than two-thirds were educated to post-secondary level or above, while the rest had attained secondary level.

Eighty-one per cent of them cited wanting to live on their own or wanting to split from their existing household as a major reason for applying for public housing.

About 22 per cent cited the small living area of their present accommodation.

Half of the young applicants were of the view that they should apply for such housing when they were still young with low income. Seventeen per cent believed public housing was a benefit they should enjoy if eligible.

In a consultative document issued in September, the government's Long Term Housing Strategy Steering Committee said it supported the Housing Authority's policy of continuing to give priority to families and elderly applicants for public rental flats.

While the committee appreciated the needs of "non-elderly one-person applicants", it recommended offering higher priority only to those aged over 35.

The committee proposed a target of 470,000 flats in the next decade, of which about 60 per cent should be public housing. It also said the average waiting time of three years for public housing should be maintained.

"The crux of the problem is a shortage of public housing supply," unionist lawmaker Wong Kwok-hing said.

"Under limited supply, it is understandable that the government should give priority to those with more urgent housing needs."

Wong agreed that young people's housing needs were not as urgent as those of older people.

According to the Housing Department survey, the 228,400 applicants on the waiting list last year compared to 114,400 in 2009, and 152,500 in 2011. In 2012, there were 189,500.

The overall median monthly household income of the applicants was HK$8,600, slightly up from HK$8,500 in 2012. In 2009, their median household income was HK$7,200 a month.

Further analysis showed that 67 per cent of the applicants indicated they would split from their existing household upon allocation of a public unit.

This proportion has steadily increased from 50 per cent in 2009.

In a separate poll by the department, which covered 5,000 households living in public housing, 82 per cent were satisfied with the security services, and 73 per cent were satisfied with the cleanliness of common areas.

In the first quarter of last year, there were 710,200 families living in public housing. Of these families, about 17.4 per cent, or 123,900, were elderly households where all members were at least 60 years old.

The proportion had risen steadily from 15.5 per cent in 2009 to 17 per cent in 2012.