Momentum is building for the government to revive the Home Ownership Scheme, suspended in 2002. The question appears to be no longer whether to restart the scheme but how many flats to build. Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah said yesterday the chief executive would announce a decision in his policy address in October. Executive councillor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, chairman of the Housing Authority's subsidised housing committee, said yesterday the government had been listening to the public on resuming the scheme in the face of soaring property prices. 'If the scheme is revived, a few thousand units should be made available a year,' he said. Cheung said a conservative approach should be taken in the initial stages for fear that the private property market might be adversely affected. 'The chief executive has already said the government would study the issue and deal with it in the policy address in October,' Cheung said. Tsang said: 'The decision [to shelve the HOS] was made after lengthy discussion in society. If there is any change of policy, we should also study what has changed.' The government is under mounting pressure to relaunch the subsidised housing scheme after Wang Guangya, Beijing's Hong Kong affairs chief, warned last week that the shortage of housing could turn into a political problem. Introduced in 1978, the HOS was suspended in 2002 following the collapse of the property market. Cheung said that over the past two years, more and more people had demanded its resumption. He said there was no direct relationship between the scheme and property prices. Executive Council convenor Leung Chun-ying also supported resuming the scheme, saying the property market would not be crushed. 'The aim of the HOS is to help people who do not have the ability to buy private housing to buy their own homes,' he said yesterday. 'We should have a long-term housing policy, but then we should also fine-tune the policy quickly when necessary.' Stewart Leung Chi-kin, chairman of the executive committee of the Real Estate Developers Association, said the government should strike a balance when reviving the scheme. 'Other than looking into the needs of the middle class, the government should also take care of the needs of other property owners,' Leung said. He said the government was sufficiently well-informed to know how many HOS flats could be built without crushing the market. Chau Kwong-wing, chair professor of real estate and construction at the University of Hong Kong, agreed that a few thousand HOS flats should be built each year, but he did not think it could help to slow down price increases in the market. Sky-rocketing market prices, he said, 'are caused by limited land supply and a growing demand for Hong Kong property from mainlanders'.