Hong Kong housing

Wait for public housing in Hong Kong getting longer and activists believe it will get worse before it gets better

  • Latest figures from city’s Housing Authority puts waiting time at five years, five months, and groups believe it could soon reach six years
  • Elderly now waiting nearly three years for housing as struggle to find land for building continues
PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 November, 2018, 8:06pm
UPDATED : Monday, 12 November, 2018, 10:20pm

Hong Kong low-income families must now wait almost 5½ years for a public housing flat – the longest queuing time in 18 years.

The average time for the group before an allocation of a flat was released on Monday, showing a two-month leap to five years and five months from the second quarter of the year.

Meanwhile, the average waiting time for elderly single applicants remained the same, at about two years and nine months, according to figures released by the Housing Authority.

The authority received a total of 150,200 general applications for public rental housing, and about 117,500 applications from single people, as of September.

This comes as the government struggles to find land to build enough housing in one of the world’s most unaffordable cities to buy and rent property.

The Federation of Public Housing Estates, an alliance of 11 community associations representing public housing residents, said the groups were deeply concerned about the rise in the waiting time.

“The government keeps making promises of shortening the allocation time for families, but it has abandoned their words and instead single elderly applicants now have to wait as long as three years which is unacceptable,” it said in a statement.

“We think that there’ll be a great chance that the average queuing time will exceed six years in the near future.”

The statistics, released quarterly, are calculated based on data from those who received a flat in the past 12 months, and is used as a reference for current applicants.

The last time there was such a long wait for public flats was in late 2000, and the longest waiting time was 6½ years in 1998, when Tung Chee-hwa was the city’s chief executive.

Lawmaker Wilson Or Chong-shing, who is also a subsidised housing committee member, said he was not surprised by the news, but is concerned the waiting time will continue to increase because of the lack of land.

“This is a dead-end situation,” he said. “There are more than 200,000 people living in subdivided flats but less than 15,000 public flats are built every year.”

Or has urged the government to revisit its pledge to keep the maximum waiting time for low-income families to get into public flats at three years.