‘2,500 Sham Shui Po flats to be first batch of Hong Kong homes sold under subsidised housing scheme’
Site will be the earliest completed out of six estates where converted flats will be sold at knockdown prices
Some 2,500 flats in Sham Shui Po would be the first batch of subsidised housing made available to buyers under a new scheme, a senior Hong Kong government adviser said on Wednesday.
Last year, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor announced in her policy address that the Green Form Subsidised Home Ownership Pilot Scheme – a scheme that sells government-built flats exclusively to public housing tenants at knockdown prices – should be adopted as a regular one.
The Housing Authority’s subsidised housing committee in a brainstorming session on Wednesday whittled down a list of six suitable sites out of some 40 public housing estates that could be converted into subsidised flats for sale.
Committee chairman Stanley Wong Yuen-fai said a public housing project in Sham Shui Po would be completed as the earliest among all options.
“The majority of members supported making use of the soon-to-be-completed estate at Tonkin Street to convert flats for the GSH scheme, as these would be most suitable in terms of timing, size and location,” Wong said.
The site, previously a temporary driving range, would be large enough to provide 3,800 flats in six residential towers.
One part of the estate could provide 2,500 flats for sale under the new scheme as early as the third quarter of next year, while the remaining homes could be used as public rental housing as planned.
A strategic planning committee under the Housing Authority will have to discuss and approve the proposal. Once the scheme is in place, it would be opened for applications as early as the end of the year.
The five other public housing sites being considered include: 4,800 flats in Fo Tan; 800 flats in Chai Wan; 2,500 flats in West Kowloon; 2,700 flats in Kowloon Bay and 2,900 flats in Tsing Yi.
In her policy address, Lam had proposed converting the Fo Tan flats into the first batch of subsidised housing after a preliminary assessment by authorities, but subsidised housing committee members raised concerns that such a large supply push could lengthen average waiting times for public housing.
“Members agreed that the scale of the plan should not be too large - around 2,000 to 3,000 flats for each batch,” Wong said.
Official statistics show there were some 282,900 applications for public rental housing in Hong Kong, as of last December. The average waiting time for families reached up to four years and eight months, while elderly applicants had to wait for two years and seven months for a flat.
Lawmaker Andrew Wan Siu-kin, who is also a member of the committee, agreed that the Sham Shui Po site would be feasible, but said the flats should be priced according to affordability and not linked to market rates.
GSH flats are generally sold at a 40 per cent discount compared with the market value of similar properties in the area.
“Even if flats are sold at a 40 per cent discount of HK$30,000 to HK$40,000 per square foot, it’s still an insane price,” Wan said.
In a pilot scheme launched in 2016, 857 flats in San Po Kong sold for between HK$940,000 to HK$2.9 million, an average of about HK$5,658 per square foot.