Date
24 November 2017
Chief Executive Carrie Lam (middle) says having their own home means Hongkongers will no longer have to fear rent hikes or be forced to move. Photo: HKEJ
Chief Executive Carrie Lam (middle) says having their own home means Hongkongers will no longer have to fear rent hikes or be forced to move. Photo: HKEJ

Carrie Lam: Home ownership can help boost sense of belonging

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said home ownership is the direction of the government’s housing policy, promising it will do its best to achieve the goal, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

At an activity organized by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups and attended by dozens of secondary school students on Monday, Lam was asked by a student if the housing policy proposed last week is intended to force people to buy homes.

Dismissing such concern, Lam said letting Hongkongers have home ownership can benefit the public in three ways.

The first one is that it can strengthen Hongkongers’ sense of belonging since having a home means they will no longer have to fear rent hikes or be forced to move, Lam said.

The second is that it is not reasonable to have public homes built for rental only instead of selling them to those in need, especially based on the fact that the rental income has been less than management fees.

The third benefit is that Hong Kong’s land is a high-value commodity but the values of land parcels used for public rental housing are worthless because they cannot be resold.

People who own their homes can use the properties to get money for their future needs when they are in financial stress or retired, such as in applying for reverse mortgage, she said.

In her first policy address on Wednesday, Lam announced several measures to increase home ownership, including starter homes, which will provide affordable flats for families that earn no more than HK$68,000 a month, as well as regularizing the Green Form Subsidized Home Ownership Scheme, and the Interim Scheme of Extending the Home Ownership Scheme Secondary Market to White Form Buyers.

Meanwhile, in a TV interview on Monday, Lam said she had planned to use her pension worth about HK$7 million plus some savings to buy a three-room flat worth HK$15 million in the New Territories last year when she was chief secretary.

She said her financial means allowed her to afford a flat in the New Territories only.

Asked if the government will consider using the periphery of country parks to develop housing projects, Lam said whether that will happen will come down to compromise.

If the government is allowed to reclaim more land from outside Victoria Harbour, perhaps it will not touch the country parks. But if it will only able to reclaim some land outside the harbour, it will have to find other sources of land supply, she said.

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