Policy Address 2022: Govt’s proposed additional public housing not enough, said experts
- By: Yuhe WANG、Yongyi CAO、Jiaxing LiEdited by: REN Ziyi David、YANG Zhenfei
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive John Lee announced plans on Wednesday during his policy address to provide 72,000 additional private housing units and 30,000 temporary public flats within the next five years, but experts say that will not be enough to meet the demand.
In his first policy address, Lee said the government’s plan to boost land supply will result in an additional 72,000 private housing units to be ready by 2027.
He said the government was also planning to build 30,000 temporary, easily constructed public housing units called “Light Public Housing (LPH)” by 2027. That will increase the Public Rental Housing (PRH) units by 25%.
“Those on the waiting list for traditional PRH for three years or more may apply for LPH for earlier allocation of units, and priority will be given to family applicants,” he added.
About 144,200 general applicants are waiting for a PRH unit as of June 2022, and there are an additional 98,400 non-elderly one-person applicants under the Quota and Points System. The average waiting time for general applicants in the past 12 months was six years, according to the Hong Kong Housing Authority.
Lee said that the demand for private housing in the next 10 years would be 129,000 units. He anticipated the overall supply will exceed projected demand, as the number of new PRH and the LPH units will add up to 102,000.
However, some experts disagree.
“The new policy will make a difference and have a positive effect on Hong Kong's housing problem, but it remains to be seen whether it will be able to meet the actual market demand,” said Sze Ming-yu, chairperson of the Land Registry Joint Standing Committee.
KK Chiu, the Chief Executive of Greater China of Cushman & Wakefield, said housing issues have always been a major concern for Hong Kong citizens.
“Although the Chief Executive mentioned increasing supply, we believe the demand for housing will increase, and the supply may not meet the demand in the coming future,” said Chiu.
He said the government should revisit its public housing policy to set up resale arrangements for future Home Ownership Scheme flats, such as requiring owners to sell their flats to eligible families only and leave the arrangements to the Housing Authority.
"The government should also consider helping young people, especially professionals, to own their homes through subsidized housing, such as redeveloping/partially redeploying public or subsidized housing into affordable housing at below-market prices or on a rent-and-buy basis for young professionals to purchase,” he added.
Eric Tso, the chief vice-president of mReferral, said the demand would be driven up as more mainland young people come to Hong Kong under the plan to develop the Greater Bay Area and integrate Hong Kong and the neigboring cities in Guangdong that make up this area.
“Roughly 140,000 people left Hong Kong by March 2022, according to the Immigration Department,” Tso said. “If the new immigrants from mainland China and foreign countries exceed 140,000, the housing supply might not be enough.”
An estimated 226,000 people are currently living in more than 110,000 subdivided flats - which are tiny parts of apartments that are divided up and rented to different households.
Housing rights advocates said the situation is dire, with many people living in subdivided flats, including many young people.
“If the government can truly accomplish what they proposed, the future would be more promising, but the real situation is still unpredictable,” said Sze.
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