Hong Kong housing

Housing Authority not giving up on three-year wait times for public flats, committee chair says

More work needed to meet goal, panel head Stanley Wong Yuen-fai admits, as latest figures show waiting time for low-income families now at 4.7 years

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 August, 2017, 1:08pm
UPDATED : Friday, 11 August, 2017, 1:08pm

The pledge to keep the maximum waiting time for low-income families to get into public flats at three years will not be abandoned, a Housing Authority member said, despite the latest figures showing that waiting time has gone up to 4.7 years.

Admitting that a wait of almost five years was “quite long”, subsidised housing committee chairman Stanley Wong Yuen-fai stressed that a lot more work had to be done to meet the three-year target.

“It is really hard to speculate when we can achieve the target,” Wong said on Friday morning. “We are still working hard towards the goal, but it may be a long-term thing to return the waiting time to three years.”

But Wong said keeping the three-year goal, though it seemed far-fetched at the moment, had its merits.

“We still set this as a working target in hope of gathering support. For example, when the district council objects to us building public housing, [the discrepancy in the target and actual waiting time] can persuade them.”

The latest data, released by the authority on Thursday, shows an average wait of 4.7 years, up from 4.6 years in March. The same waiting time was recorded at the end of last year. The longest wait was 6.5 years in 2002, when Tung Chee-hwa was chief executive.

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Wong’s remarks come at a time when an increasing backlog of applications for public housing, coupled with the struggle to find land, pose a major challenge for the administration.

But he said the government had managed to supply more land and public flats over the past few years, and added that about 2,500 to 2,800 units would be provided by 2018, according to the latest plan.

Another member of the authority, Democratic Party lawmaker Andrew Wan Siu-kin, estimated that the waiting time would soon increase to over five years if the government failed to identify a massive land supply for building public housing in the coming years.

He urged the government to develop new towns and use brown fields as a priority to meet the shortage.