Number of public housing applicants surges, with more students in the queue

By Joey Hung and Thomas Chan

 

The number of public rental housing applications in Hong Kong has reached 285,300 in September, making the average waiting time 3.6 years for families.

Executive director of the Federation of Public Housing Estates Chiu Kwok-wai said only 15 thousands new flats are built every year for public housing, and the supply will further decrease in the future.

Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, Chairman of the Hong Kong Housing Authority and Secretary for Transport and Housing, said land shortage and opposition from communities have posed great challenges to building new housing estates.

"If these problems are not solved, it is hard to overcome the shortage of flats," he said after a meeting with committee members of the authority on Tuesday.

The Housing Authority has a target of maintaining the average waiting time at around three years.  

According to the latest statistics released, the number of degree-holding applicants aged under 30 increased greatly.

Students now constitute about 40 per cent of new non-elderly one-person applicants under the category for single people aged from 18 to 50. Mr Chiu said it was a 10 per cent jump from last year.

Mr Chiu said under the new public scoring system implemented last year, more young people choose to act early. 

Starting from February 2014, adult applicants are awarded nine points instead of three each year, while people aged 45 or above receive a one-time 60 points, which puts the young in a disadvantage. 

Yeung Kwok-hei, a Hong Kong Baptist University student, said he applied for public rental housing three years ago at the age of 18, as he did not expect himself to be able to afford a private apartment any time soon.

Mr Yeung said he was not worried about the prolonged waiting time and he was prepared to wait for more than 10 years. 

"It will be a trouble if I apply at my fifties, but it is fine if I start waiting now," he said.

Edited by Viola Zhou  Copy-edited by Mari Chow

 

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