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Hong Kong housing

Carrie Lam’s promise to add more flats to Hong Kong pilot ownership scheme draws criticism

Housing experts urge city’s government to instead build more public flats and increase land supply

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 April, 2017, 1:58pm
UPDATED : Monday, 03 April, 2017, 10:58pm

Housing experts have cast doubt on a pledge by chief executive-elect Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to build more flats under a subsidised scheme, saying the government should instead add more public flats and boost land supply.

The green form subsidised home ownership pilot scheme, which started in 2015, aims to reduce the waiting time for public housing flats by encouraging tenants to buy a subsidised flat at a 40 per cent discount to the market price.

Chan Siu-ming, a member of the Shadow Long Term Housing Strategy Steering Committee, said on Monday that even after the 40 per cent discount, many would still not be able to afford to buy a property.

Hong Kong homes to go for hefty discounts as part of pilot ownership scheme

“If you have located new sites, why don’t you just build public housing?” Chan told an RTHK programme. He added that if there was not a massive increase in land supply, building more units under the subsidised home ownership scheme would result in fewer public housing flats being built.

On the same show, Professor Raymond So Wai-man, a former member of the Long Term Housing Strategy Steering Committee, also raised questions over the effectiveness of the plan.

Public housing tenants in urban areas would understandably want a flat in a similar environment if they applied under the subsidised scheme, So said.

If the flats under the scheme were built in outlying areas, the government would need to figure out how to attract such tenants as they would then have to pay higher transport fees, he said.

Hong Kong think tank believes subsidised homeownership scheme would help fix ‘unjust’ public housing policy

The professor also said that for those who purchased flats under the scheme, it was likely they would spend some time renovating their new flats before moving in. In such cases, the waiting time for public flat applicants would not be shortened by much.

As of December last year, the average waiting time for general applicants for public rental housing was 4.7 years, according to the Housing Authority. For elderly one-person applicants, it was 2.6 years.

Last month, Secretary for Development Eric Ma Siu-cheung said the government had identified 26 new sites for housing development, which could provide about 60,000 flats, with 80 per cent planned for public housing.

The government’s current target is to supply 460,000 flats by 2027, with 60 per cent for the public sector and the rest private.