Date
19 October 2017
China is targeting 36 million affordable homes by 2015 covering 20 percent of all residential areas. Photo: Reuters
China is targeting 36 million affordable homes by 2015 covering 20 percent of all residential areas. Photo: Reuters

POLICY WATCH: Xi Jinping restates housing agenda

President Xi Jinping {習近平} wants construction of affordable homes speeded up and imbalances in allocating completed units tackled — another sign the central government is getting impatient with the slow progress of the national housing program.

China’s 12th Five-Year Plan envisages 36 million affordable homes by 2015 covering 20 percent of all residential areas. The target includes renovation of rundown neighborhoods.

However, only 4.2 million units, worth a combined 820 billion yuan (US$134.65 billion), had been completed and 6.2 million were under construction as of the end of September, Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development data shows. 

This year, the target is 4.7 million completed units and 6.3 million construction starts.

Xi chose a meeting of the powerful Communist Party politburo to restate his agenda, notably improving people’s livelihood, and linked its success to social harmony.

“China will exert every effort to increase housing supply while pursuing affordable, environmentally friendly and safe living standards in accordance with the country’s practical situation,” Xi was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua news agency.

Xi described the housing issue as a long-term task and warned that China continues to face insufficient affordable homes and serious imbalances in housing allocation.

He zeroed in on a particularly vulnerable segment of the population — those with low income and limited employment opportunities because of a mismatch between their skills and the requirements of the job market.

However, Xi stressed that the purpose of ramping up housing supply is to meet a basic social need while leaving most everything else to market forces.

China’s property market has been under tight government control to prevent home prices from rising too fast. However, home purchase restrictions in place for years have not had the desired effect. In September, home prices rose 20 percent in Shenzhen and Guangzhou, 17 percent in Shanghai and 16 percent in Beijing compared with a year earlier. Prices climbed in 69 of the 70 cities tracked by the government.

Xi said the government will ensure the quality and safety of affordable housing projects and strive to meet the target while speeding up construction of public rental housing and renovation of rundown neighborhoods.

Land and fiscal policies will be eased to support these projects. At the same time, the government will encourage non-profit institutions to participate in the construction and management of affordable housing.

– Contact the reporter at [email protected]

RA

EJ Insight writer

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