Hong Kong housing

Hong Kong public housing eligibility rules set to be tightened

Housing Authority committee hears proposal that could see many well-off tenants forced out of their homes to make way for those with genuine need

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 October, 2016, 11:28pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 October, 2016, 12:16pm

More well-off public housing ­tenants would have to move out under a proposal aimed at giving priority to those with genuine need, according to a Housing Authority member.

At a brain-storming session on Monday, the authority’s subsidised housing committeesuggested tightening the policy relating to public flats.

Under the current system, well-off tenants are required to leave if their monthly income ­exceeds the public rental housing income limit by three times, and if their net assets exceed the income limit by 84 times.

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Under the new proposal, tenants would only have to meet either criteria, but at a higher threshold.

For example, if a single person earned more than HK$54,850 a month, more than five times the income limit, or they owned ­assets worth more than HK$1,107,142, more than 100 times the income limit, they would have to leave.

The proposal was one of several measures discussed with the aim of shortening the average waiting time for public housing as well as improving the efficiency of allocating flats. The proposals will be formally discussed next Monday.

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There is an increasing backlog of applications which has pushed the average waiting time for public housing to more than four years.

The total number of applications involving families and single and elderly people went up by 3,800 to 288,300 from March to the end of June.

We are allocating scarce ­resources, we don’t have efficient resources for everyone
Stanley Wong Yuen-fai, Housing Authority

Stanley Wong Yuen-fai, chairman of the subsidised housing committee, said the proposal was the “right thing to do”.

“I believe it’s about which families have a bigger need for public rental units. Is it those who are living in subdivided housing and rooftop squatter homes? Or is it those who are earning three or four times more than ordinary public housing tenants?” Wong said.

“We are allocating scarce ­resources, we don’t have efficient resources for everyone.”

However, he did say the proposal was a controversial one since it was shot down last year when it was discussed by another committee on concerns that well-off tenants would still be unable to afford rent in the private sector or buy property.

There are about 26,000 ­residents who are considered well-off tenants, accounting for 4 per cent of all those living in public housing, Wong said.

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He added that the proposal would not produce a large number of additional flats, and may not be able to shorten the waiting time significantly.

However it would at least be a fair and better allocation of ­limited resources to give priority to those currently on the lengthening waiting list.

Another source familiar with the matter cited concerns that the proposal would mean more younger, able-bodied residents would move out on their own ­accord so their family would not qualify as well-off tenants, ­leading to an ageing public housing population.