Hous­ing chief plans to pro­vide ‘qual­ity sub­di­vided flats’

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - By LUIS LIU in Hong Kong luis­liu@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

Hong Kong’s hous­ing chief is keen to de­velop a plan to pro­vide “qual­ity sub­di­vided flats” for those most in need — as a short-term rem­edy for the city’s hous­ing woes.

This could be the first con­crete hous­ing pol­icy im­ple­mented by the new govern­ment.

Speak­ing at a tea gath­er­ing with re­porters, Sec­re­tary for Trans­port and Hous­ing Frank Chan Fan re­vealed that he has al­ready started talks with wel­fare and char­ity groups, de­vel­op­ers and prop­erty own­ers on the plan.

“I be­lieve in never giv­ing up any chance to do good things even if the im­pact might not be sig­nif­i­cant,” Chan said. “Hong Kong so­ci­ety should never be in­dif­fer­ent to how other peo­ple live.”

The plan is to of­fer fund­ing to lo­cal non-govern­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions to rent old build­ings, es­pe­cially those wait­ing to be re­built. These will then be re­vamped into sub­di­vided units which are much more liv­able than many cur­rently in use, ex­plained Chan.

The flats will charge rents at half the mar­ket rate, he ven­tured. These will be of­fered to peo­ple on wait­ing lists for pub­lic rental hous­ing as tran­si­tional ac­com­mo­da­tion, he ex­plained.

Chan re­vealed that he has al­ready re­ceived de­sign drafts from lo­cal ar­chi­tects. He can­not of­fer a spe­cific timetable or the num­ber of units planned but Chan ex­pects these projects to be open to the pub­lic some­time this year.

Cur­rently, the av­er­age wait­ing time for gen­eral pub­lic hous­ing ap­pli­cants is 4.6 years, ac­cord­ing to the Hong Kong Hous­ing Author­ity. Chan ex­pects these projects will at least cover this pe­riod.

He stressed that in the long term the govern­ment had to find more land for new hous­ing.

Other rel­e­vant govern­ment de­part­ments will co­op­er­ate with the scheme, he added. Sec­re­tary for Labour and Wel­fare Law Chi-kwong and Sec­re­tary for Devel­op­ment Michael Wong Wai-lun have al­ready joined dis­cus­sions, Chan noted.

The hous­ing sec­re­tary also said the govern­ment would en­cour­age some NGOs to ini­ti­ate crowd­fund­ing — rais­ing money from many peo­ple who con­trib­ute rel­a­tively small amounts, of­ten via the in­ter­net.

Chan hopes this can lead to greater par­tic­i­pa­tion.

He also stressed that the projects must com­ply with the city’s Build­ings Or­di­nance. They must also guar­an­tee safety and san­i­tary stan­dards.

Chan de­cided to act af­ter vis­it­ing a lo­cal sub­di­vided flat dur­ing his off-work hours. The flat, less than 600 square feet, was di­vided into 17 units, each charg­ing HK$1,800 a month, he re­called.

A study of 378 metropoli­tan ar­eas in nine coun­tries in 2015 found that Hong Kong, Van­cou­ver and Syd­ney were the most un­af­ford­able hous­ing mar­kets among cities polled.

To the point A laven­der farm in Harbin, Hei­longjiang prov­ince, makes a col­or­ful image from the air on Tues­day. The farm cov­ers 80 hectares.


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