If tackling Hong Kong’s housing woes was as simple as building temporary hospitals and isolation units for coronavirus patients, officials might simply conjure up more such facilities for longer use with the help of the mainland authorities. Alas, the Covid strategy is an extraordinary step in extraordinary times. It is still incumbent upon the administration to resolve the problem with more sustainable efforts. The latest official figures offered no relief for many who have been desperately waiting for a subsidised flat. According to the Housing Authority, about 250,000 needy families face an average wait of six years, the longest duration in 23 years. This is twice as long as the government’s allocation commitment of within three years. The target has not been met since 2014, with the waiting time hitting 4.6 years in 2017 and 5.7 years in 2020. The longer wait is said to be a reflection of more people allocated flats in the last quarter following a long wait. Be that as it may, it remains the truth that the demand for subsidised flats continues to outstrip supply. One may ask whether it is still meaningful to hold on to the three-year target, especially when it appears to be increasingly unachievable. But the government must not just accept the situation. To officials in charge of housing, the ever-lengthening wait may cause nothing more than embarrassment and criticism, but for many in the queue, it is a reflection of their predicament. There are also implications on public finance, as applicants waiting for three years or more are eligible to rent subsidies pending allocation. The longer the wait, the higher the burden on taxpayers. Aspiring homeowners rush to sign up for chance to buy Hong Kong shoebox flats To be fair, successive governments have been trying hard to enhance land and housing supply over the years. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor went further with a special task force to map out a more comprehensive strategy. But the output still falls short of public expectation. The overriding priority for the Lam administration to control the community outbreak makes breakthroughs on the housing front unlikely in the remaining months of her current term. It is to be hoped that the pandemic can stabilise and then enable the government to tackle the housing conundrum with more sustainable efforts in the longer term.