(To watch the 2020 Policy Address speech with sign language interpretation, click here.)
The Government’s efforts over the years in boosting housing supply have started to pay off, with all of the 330 hectares of land required for providing 316,000 public housing units identified.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam made the statement when delivering her Policy Address today, saying the demand for about 301,000 public housing units under the Long Term Housing Strategy for the coming 10 years can be met.
The supply of land mainly comes from Tung Chung, Kai Tak, Anderson Road Quarry, Hung Shui Kiu/Ha Tsuen, Kwu Tung North/Fanling North, Fanling Golf Course partial development, brownfield clusters with housing development potential, as well as rezoned sites for public housing development.
Mrs Lam said the Shek Lei Interim Housing’s redevelopment is expected to complete in 2028, offering about 1,600 public housing units. Some of Housing Authority’s factory estates may also be revamped to provide over 3,000 public housing units in 2031.
She noted the Hong Kong Settlers Housing Corporation and the Urban Renewal Authority have reached an intention of collaboration in taking forward the Tai Hang Sai Estate’s redevelopment plan. According to their preliminary estimates, over 3,300 units could be provided upon completion, doubling the existing 1,600 flats.
Promoting transitional housing
The Chief Executive stressed the current-term Government is committed to promoting the development of transitional housing.
Land has been identified for providing 13,200 units in total for the coming three years, falling short of the target of 15,000 units only by 12%. It has also been planned that an extra $3.3 billion will be injected into the relevant funding scheme, raising the total government commitment to $8.3 billion.
In addition, a pilot scheme will be launched to subsidise non-governmental bodies to rent hotels and guesthouses with relatively low occupancy rates for use as transitional housing.
Mrs Lam said: “While the Government will continue to adopt a multi-pronged approach to increase housing supply, an unprecedented trial scheme has been endorsed to provide cash allowance for grassroots families which have waited for public rental housing allocation for a prolonged period of time so as to relieve their pressure on livelihood.”
Under the trial scheme, eligible applicant households which have been waiting for public rental housing for more than three years will be provided with cash allowance. The scheme is scheduled to launch in mid-2021, benefitting 90,000 households.
The Task Force for the Study on Tenancy Control of Subdivided Units is gauging views of various sectors and strives to complete its study in the first quarter of 2021.
Mrs Lam stressed the current-term Government has adjusted its principles and policy on housing to enlarge and enrich the overall public housing supply. But ultimately, the core of the housing problem in Hong Kong lies in the shortage of land for housing development.
“Due to the impact of the epidemic, we have seen a downward adjustment in construction costs and an increase in manpower supply in the construction industry. This is an excellent opportunity to move ahead with land creation and housing construction. With adequate supply, it is believed that property prices will become stable gradually,” she added.