The Chief Executive's pledge to allow 70 per cent of families to own their own homes is unlikely to be attainable, now the target to supply 85,000 new flats a year no longer exists, a public housing policy adviser has warned. Dr Rebecca Chiu Lai-har, a Housing Authority member, said yesterday that the Government should keep building affordable flats to help people own homes and stabilise the market. The University of Hong Kong associate professor urged Tung Chee-hwa to review the 70 per cent home ownership pledge, in the wake of his belated disclosure that the 85,000 target no longer existed. The Housing Bureau estimates the current home ownership rate as 53 per cent, about the same as in 1997 when Mr Tung announced his two key housing targets - supplying 85,000 flats a year and allowing 70 per cent of families to own homes by 2007. Dr Chiu said: 'The [70 per cent] target is unlikely to be an attainable goal, given only seven more years to go.' The Housing Bureau has conceded it faces difficulty in achieving the 70 per cent target but indicated that it had not been abandoned. It said: 'Promoting home ownership is one of the guiding principles of our long-term housing strategy. The target is a useful discipline and we will use our best endeavour to meet it, although we accept it will not be easy.' In February, a government survey on home ownership found less than 20 per cent of families planned to buy homes in the next 10 years. Dr Chiu, of the university's Centre of Urban Planning and Environmental Management, also warned in an address to a conference organised by the centre on 'Housing Policy and Practice in the Asia-Pacific' that the Government should not scrap its Home Ownership Scheme. It was first launched in 1978 to offer affordable housing to middle-income families. Last month, however, the Government announced that it was suspending flat sales under the scheme for this year and put up for rent 16,000 flats intended for sale between now and 2003-04, amid developers' pressure to cut supply of subsidised for-sale flats. Dr Chiu said replacing availability of home ownership flats with housing loans was 'only possible when the [private property] market housing prices remain at low levels'. She added: 'It is highly questionable whether these favourable conditions will remain on a long-term basis.' Another speaker, Nelson Yeung Che-keung, also from Dr Chiu's centre, shared similar views. He said: 'Scrapping [the scheme] will do little to remedy the property market since the prevailing problems are pessimistic market expectations and uncertain employment conditions.' Of particular relevance was the Government's 'fluid housing policy', which had already added a lot of uncertainty to the market, Mr Yeung said.