Housing and the poverty trap should be top priority for action

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 December, 2015, 5:37pm
UPDATED : Friday, 18 December, 2015, 5:37pm

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, in his January 2015 Legco address, emphasised housing was the most critical of all livelihood issues and the government was determined to avert the supply-demand imbalance progressively.

The government’s long-term housing strategy would be based on a multi-pronged approach to meet different types of housing needs. For the 10-year period 2015-16/2024-25, the aim was to provide 200,000 public rental housing units and about 90,000 subsidised sale flats.

During this period, interchangeability of public rental housing and subsidised sale flats would allow flexibility to meet changing demand patterns that will be reviewed from time to time. Our association supported the government’s 10-year plan and further suggested the proportion of subsidised sale flats to public rental units should be progressively increased from 40:60 to 50:50.

We also proposed that the government should pursue private sector participation to provide a wider range of subsidised home-ownership schemes.

Our association welcomes proposals by Our Hong Kong Foundation to make home ownership more affordable, and to address the thorny issue of land supply.

The proposals by the foundation — founded by Tung Chee-hwa, Hong Kong’s first chief executive — primarily have to do with reforming the premium payment system to make subsidised home-ownership available to more people.

In his January address, the chief executive had indicated the government would seek to improve the home-ownership housing ladder by developing different forms of subsidised sale flats to meet various needs. The government should study which of the foundation’s proposals could be used to enhance the 10-year housing strategy.

The government should be equally concerned about the Commission on Poverty’s recent summit progress report. As mentioned in your editorial (“Hong Kong has made a promising start to the war on poverty but there’s much that needs to be done”, October 21), “Thanks to hefty government handouts and subsidies, some 360,000 people were lifted out of poverty last year... the challenge is getting bigger”.

Our association urges the chief executive in his January 2016 Legco address to launch a five-year plan to lift about 1.3 million Hong Kong citizens out of the poverty trap through a holistic approach of subsidised housing, deserving family welfare subsidies and quality vocational and professional education for our young people, leading to better job opportunities.

Hilton Cheong-Leen, president, Frederick Lynn, chairman, Hong Kong Civic Association