Hong Kong housing

Hongkongers eye largest flats as applications open for pilot public housing scheme offering 40pc discount

The 857 units in San Po Kong range in size from 192 sq ft to 494 sq ft, with the smallest being compared to cubicle homes by potential buyers

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 October, 2016, 11:54am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 October, 2016, 10:00pm

Public housing tenants are eyeing the biggest flats under a pilot scheme for government-subsidised apartments, with some complaining that the smallest units on offer are too similar to cubicle homes.

The 857 flats in San Po Kong in east Kowloon, which are open only to public housing tenants for application, are part of the first wave of offerings under the Green Form Subsidised Home Ownership Pilot Scheme.

The flats, ranging in size from 192 sq ft to 494 sq ft, are being sold for between HK$940,000 and HK$2.98 million, or at a 40 per cent discount on the market price. The largest flats have two rooms and one living room, while the smallest ones are being sold as studio units.

“I think now is the right time. Property prices are bound to go up, especially as more mainland Chinese people buy up flats,” potential buyer Cheung Kam-hon, 23, said.

“But we are only interested in the biggest flats. A hundred square feet would be too small [for our family of four], it wouldn’t be any different than living in subdivided units.”

Cheung was one of many who came to look at the show flat models that were on display for the first time.

The project includes a green roof for community planting, a playground and a hostel for the mentally disabled on the first floor.

Wilson Chan, who with his mother was among dozens queueing for an application form at the Housing Authority customer service centre in Lok Fu, echoed Cheung’s sentiments.

“It’s a good price for a flat in the urban area, and transportation is convenient. But we’re only going to choose the biggest flats. There’s no point in choosing one that’s the same size as the public housing unit we’re living in now,” Chan said.

However, some still had reservations, given that the project was a pilot scheme.

The plan, initiated by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying in his 2015 policy address, aims to vacate more public housing flats and reduce waiting periods, which now exceed four years.

Stanley Wong Yuen-fai, chairman of the subsidised housing committee under the Housing Authority, said the committee would not know if the pilot scheme would continue as part of the city’s long-term housing policy until a review was completed by early 2018.

Meanwhile, a reverse mortgage programme previously open only to owners of private properties has been extended to the over-60s living in subsidised flats.

On the first day of the launch on Thursday, two applications were approved and 30 were still pending.

Reverse mortgages enable senior citizens to use their residential property as security to borrow from a bank. Participants remain in the flat while receiving monthly payouts as the bank slowly gains ownership.