Longer wait this year for public housing rental flats

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 May, 2006, 12:00am

Public housing applicants face a longer wait this year as the number of flats available has slipped by 10 per cent year-on-year to 29,700 units.

Housing Authority member Wong Kwun said applicants faced waiting an extra two months this year, but some may wait even longer.

The average waiting time is about two years.

But the Housing Authority has repeated its guarantee that people will not have to wait more than three years.

The figures were released yesterday by the Housing Authority after a meeting on subsidised housing and strategic planning.

Out of those 29,700 units, 20,000 will go to applicants on the waiting list, while the rest will be reserved for other categories, such as emergency cases.

Although the waiting time would be longer, Mr Wong said the three-year waiting limit would still be honoured.

About 8 per cent of flats for applicants on the waiting list - or 1,600 units - will be allocated to single people aged between 18 and 57 who are already on the waiting list.

This is a significant reduction from the 2,000 units for non-elderly singles last year, part of an official policy to encourage such people to find their own housing.

But Mr Wong said the number of non-elderly single applicants remained high despite the quota coming into force last October.

By the end of March, of the 97,400 applicants, 36,940 are non-elderly singles.

'The age policy has failed to put off young singles from applying for public housing,' Mr Wong said. 'There is a proven need for public housing among the young and unmarried. The government must review its allocation policy for non-elderly as soon as possible.'

Meanwhile, Sze Lai-shan, of the Society for Community Organisation, protested outside the Housing Department headquarters yesterday with more than 10 single applicants. 'We have people in their 40s who have been waiting for eight years simply because they are not old enough,' Ms Sze said. 'The policy ought to change.'

A Housing Authority spokeswoman said it would review the allocation system in September.

The Housing Authority also announced details for the 13,400 residents affected by the demolition of So Uk Estate near Shamshuipo, taking place in two phases in 2008 and 2011. The authority said some tenants may have to choose public housing flats outside the district because there might not be enough available in the vicinity.

A relocation allowance of $2,670 to $8,080 will be paid to those residents who move out before December 2008.