Date
19 August 2017
Public housing units have been shrinking in space in Hong Kong in the past 20 years, leading to cramped living conditions. Photo: HKEJ
Public housing units have been shrinking in space in Hong Kong in the past 20 years, leading to cramped living conditions. Photo: HKEJ

Public housing units see spaces shrink as govt focuses on supply

Hong Kong government has been focusing on boosting the supply of public housing in the past two decades, but the new units have come at a cost: ever-shrinking living spaces.

According to a Hong Kong Economic Journal study, a public housing unit for a family of five offered 398 square feet in average space in 2014, down from 417 sq ft in 2004 and compared with 465 sq ft in 1994.

One good example that shows how public home residents have to put up with smaller spaces as time goes by is the Pak Tin Estate in Sham Shui Po, which has been undergoing redevelopment in three phases under a government-planned scheme.

As the redevelopment is currently in Phase Two, it has been found that the largest space for a unit is only 370 sq ft, or 30 sq ft less than that seen in Phase One, which was completed in 2013.

The average space of a unit of public homes suitable for one or two people to live in has also been shrinking in general.

Between 1997 and 2011, at least 183 sq ft were provided for such a smaller family, but it has been down nearly 20 percent to 150 sq ft since, according to the HKEJ study.

Director of Housing Stanley Ying has claimed that though the newly-built public homes may be smaller, they are more livable due to design improvements.

Calling such a defense ironic, Man Yu-min, chairman of the Federation of Public Housing Estates, said the point is not about new design, which is a matter of opinion, but about the shrinking space and cramped living conditions.

As to who should be blamed for the current situation, Man pointed the finger at former chief executive Donald Tsang.

He accused the administration led by Tsang, who held Hong Kong’s top post for seven years until end-June 2012, of focusing only on using land reserves to build public homes while ignoring the necessity of developing new sources of land.

The wrong policy approach sowed the seeds of the shrinkage in public home spaces, Man said.

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TL/AC/RC

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