New World Development (NWD) has launched a non-profit social housing enterprise that will come up with innovative policies to solve Hong Kong’s deep-rooted housing issues. The enterprise, New World Build for Good, will conduct research in multiple directions and lead future pilot programmes as it seeks short to medium-term solutions, as well as long-term strategies, that will allow Hongkongers to own their own flats. It will be chaired by executive vice-chairman Adrian Cheng Chi-kong. “We have to collect ideas from the experts before coming up with details,” an NWD spokesman said, adding that the developer had four transitional housing projects, which were expected to have about 2,000 units, in progress. The projects, in Tin Shui Wai, Sheung Shui, Yuen Long’s Ngau Tam Mei and Lau Fau Shan, were not under New World Build for Good. The launch comes weeks after Reuters reported that Chinese officials had told major Hong Kong developers that they should use their resources and influence to champion state interests. They were also reportedly asked to help solve Hong Kong’s chronic housing shortage , which has previously been blamed on land hoarding by the developers. The Real Estate Developers Association has, however, denied coming under pressure from Beijing to solve the city’s housing woes. The association did stress that its members, which include Sun Hung Kai Properties, Henderson Land Development and CK Asset Holdings, were continuing to support the Hong Kong government in boosting housing supply and improving living standards. New World Build for Good also follows a decision in July by NWD to tear down and rebuild two towers at its The Pavilia Farm development in Tai Wai due to construction defects. “At present, we rely on the government, the Hong Kong Housing Society, the Hong Kong Housing Authority, and the Urban Renewal Authority to supply public housing. It would be good if more non-profit organisations participated in social housing,” said Patrick Lau, a former director of the Lands Department. He will be among the founding members of a cross-disciplinary advisory committee of experts that will lead the initiative. Its other members also include Professor Terence Chong, an associate professor of economics at Chinese University of Hong Kong, Anthony Chiu, executive director of the Federation of Public Housing Estates, and Vincent Ho, former president of The Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors. The committee will examine a host of long-standing housing issues that the city faces. “These range from unaffordable housing for young families, prolonged waiting times for public housing and the lack of elderly friendly homes as the population ages,” NWD said. The members will conduct in-depth research and aim to provide alternatives to the public, subsidised and private housing types currently available. The committee will support first-time homebuyers, especially younger buyers, as it helps to build a more inclusive housing ladder. These efforts are driven by NWD’s vision of “creating shared value” and will create a win-win situation for the government, the public and businesses, the developer said. New World Build for Good will announce its research direction as well as detailed, feasible proposals in the near future, it added. NWD has made efforts to improve Hong Kong’s housing and land supply issues earlier as well. In 2016, with a funding of HK$22 million (US$2.8 million) from the Chow Tai Fook Charity Foundation, NWD partnered with the social enterprise Light Be to build a series of homes in Sham Tseng, with the aim of lowering housing costs for families most in need. The following year, through its “NewGen First Home Programme”, in which NWD significantly lowered the down payment threshold to as low as 7.5 per cent, offered a progressive mortgage repayment scheme and subsidised stamp duty for young homebuyers at its The Parkville development in Tuen Mun. The developer has also made significant land donations in recent years, and worked with various NGOs on transitional home projects.