HK Magazine Archive

Three Years On: Roofs Over Heads

How has CY Leung managed the city's property crisis in the last three years?

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 July, 2015, 4:00pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 October, 2016, 4:44pm

He Said:

  • Increase public housing!
  • Find new land for development!
  • Make the housing ladder a Thing!
  • Basically, affordable housing for all!

He Did:

  • Having emphasized land and housing policies in the run-up to his appointment, three years on CY desperately needs to show progress with his promises to improve affordability and narrow the wealth gap. In a bid to cool record housing prices, in September 2013 Leung’s administration announced a target of constructing around 470,000 public and private flats over the next decade, primarily in new towns in the New Territories, east Lantau and reclamation projects. This is only just getting underway, with the government pushing for the controversial development of new towns in the northeasten New Territories before they can move on to further stages.
  • But since he came to power, housing problems have worsened. Tough government strategies meant to cool the market—such as tighter controls on mortgage lending and an increase in stamp duty to keep non-locals and spectators out of the market—haven’t worked, resulting in some of the highest property prices in the world and making it virtually impossible for people to buy their own homes. The government’s price index for property shot up 12 percent in the first 11 months of last year to an all-time high. The figures are only rising.  
  • From June-November this year a relatively small number—just six—housing developments are slated for construction. In his policy address this January, CY seemed mostly to rehash previous housing initiatives, hinting that the government would have to redefine country park-zoned land as it scours for areas to develop. But in the process of re-zoning green belt sites for residential use to meet the 470,000-unit target, the Planning Department has met with criticism, with some arguing the developments are destroying the environment and affecting water and air quality. A question of damned if you do, damned if you don’t? Sounds like Hong Kong politics to us.

The Grade: D-