18 November 2018
The government is finding it hard to locate suitable sites for public housing. Photo: Xinhua
The government is finding it hard to locate suitable sites for public housing. Photo: Xinhua

Average waiting time for public rental housing up at 4.7 years

People who have applied for public rental housing may have to wait a bit longer, if the latest government figures are any indication.

As of end-June 2017, there were a total of about 277,800 applications for public rental housing, up 1,900 from end of March, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports, citing data from the Housing Authority.

These included 150,200 general applications and 127,600 non-elderly, one-person applications under the Quota and Points System.

The former saw an increase of 2,900 from March, while the latter was 1,000 fewer.

While the average waiting time for elderly one-person applicants was 2.6 years, that for general applicants was 4.7 years, up from 4.6 years in March and the same as the record high seen in December last year.

This means the authority will find it hard to achieve its target of keeping the waiting time for general applicants at three years on average.

Anthony Chiu Kwok-wai, executive director of the Federation of Public Housing Estates, said he is not surprised at the longer waiting time since the construction of new public housing flats has been slow.

Chiu is not optimistic that the new administration under Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor will be able to fullfil its “three years” promise, and said the waiting time is likely to hit a new high in the future.

Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan acknowledged that the waiting time has become a little bit longer, but stressed that the government is doing its best of find land for public housing.

However, it takes time to locate appropriate sites and build the homes, he said.

Chan also revealed that hundreds of vacant units had been donated by some people and they will be transformed into subdivided flats and offered at affordable prices by the end of the year.

Democratic Party lawmaker Andrew Wan Siu-kin, however, criticized the government’s plan to develop subdivided flats, saying that it will only be a drop in the bucket in view of the high demand, Apple Daily reported.

Wan suggested the government consider developing the land occupied by 180 schools that are currently idle or building prefabricated housing on plots expected to be idle for at least five years.

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