Press Release



Secretary for Housing to brief Legislative Council Housing Panel


Speaking note of the briefing by the Secretary for Housing, Mr Dominic Wong, today (October 17) at Legislative Council Panel on Housing on the Chief Executive's 2000 Policy Address:

A. Our strategy and achievements

ĦE The White Paper on Long Term Housing Strategy, published in February 1998, set out our policy objective of achieving better housing for all, through an adequate supply of affordable housing for ownership or rent. The White Paper also set out a series of specific measures to reduce the number of inadequately housed people, to help all households gain access to affordable housing and to encourage home ownership in the community.

ĦE By now, we have already implemented all the specific initiatives, as well as some new ones, for example, housing assistance for singletons, phased reduction in the production of subsidised home ownership flats, and increase in loan provision.

ĦE Briefly, despite our economic difficulties in the past three years, we have:

* introduced a fairer system of public rental housing allocation, thus shortening the waiting time for families in genuine need;

* through a variety of priority schemes and initiatives, paid special attention to the elderly and to ordinary families living in inadequate accommodation;

* increased the level of consumer protection in property transactions;

* introduced a transparent system for disposal of land to facilitate private housing development;

* seen stabilisation in property prices, making flats more affordable than for many years in the past; and

* begun to implement a more flexible system of public housing provision, making better use of private sector resources to provide a wider choice for consumers.

ĦE We will build on these achievements and respond to new developments within the framework set out in the White Paper on Long Term Housing Strategy.

B. New initiatives

ĦE I wish now to refer to some developments and new initiatives set out in my Policy Objective Booklet this year, which will complement our strategic policy framework.

Public rental housing


ĦE Over the past three years we have provided 117 000 flats to eligible families in genuine need. About 68 000 of these have been allocated to families on the Waiting List, while the remainder have been allocated to clearees, tenants affected by redevelopment, and families in need of compassionate or emergency rehousing.

ĦEWe have been able to reduce the average waiting time for public rental housing from 6.5 years in 1997 to five years today.

ĦE We shall continue to work towards reducing the average waiting time for public rental housing to three years by 2003.



ĦE We attach great importance to meeting the housing needs of the elderly, in particular those in the low income group.

ĦE We have already done a great deal to accelerate the provision of public housing assistance to the elderly. Through four priority schemes under which elderly persons with different family circumstances are allocated flats more quickly than other applicants, some 60 000 families have benefited to date. In addition, priority in the purchase of subsidised home ownership flats and in obtaining loans under the Home Purchase Loan Scheme is also given to elderly families.

ĦE This year, we will undertake to improve further our assistance to the elderly by:

* offering public rental housing by 2003 to elderly households registered on the Waiting List during this financial year; and

* reducing the average waiting time of elderly singletons for public rental housing to two years by 2005 (two years earlier than our previous commitment).

Non-elderly singletons


ĦE Another large group in need of housing assistance is low income, non-elderly singletons. We have reviewed the quota for them under the Home Starter Loan Scheme.

ĦE We have concluded that the number of loans to be made available to eligible non-elderly singletons should be increased. We intend to seek approval soon from the Finance Committee of this Council to modify the quota arrangement under the Home Starter Loan Scheme.

ĦE These arrangements will not involve any increase in the overall financial provision already approved by this Council, nor a decrease in the number of loans available to ordinary family applicants. We will seek approval to give the Secretary for Housing the authority and flexibility to adjust the loan quota for singleton applicants.

Home ownership in general


ĦE In the past three years, 150 000 families have purchased their own homes through subsidised home ownership schemes and loan schemes operated by the Housing Authority and the Housing Society.

ĦE The most effective method used is the sale of public rental flats to sitting tenants.

ĦE Another useful arrangement is the Buy or Rent Option, which provides greater choice to families in need of public housing assistance.

ĦE Both the Housing Authority's Home Purchase Loan Scheme and the Housing Society's Home Starter Loan Scheme continue to be popular.

ĦE The extension of subsidised home ownership arrangements to non-elderly singletons also constributes to the home ownership rate.

ĦE It remains our intention to work towards a home ownership rate of 70% by 2007, in order to meet the aspirations of the community.

Long term supply of land for housing development


ĦE I turn finally to the subject of providing a sufficient and regular supply of land and infrastructure for long term housing development. During the five-year the period from April 2000 to March 2005, the Government's target is to make available 590 hectares of land for public and private housing. Housing production will also come from redevelopment on existing sites, lease modifications and land exchanges.

ĦE As part of our long-term planning to meet Hong Kong's population growth, my Housing Bureau maintains a computerised inventory of about 1 000 actual or potential housing sites. Progress of these sites is monitored by Project Directors in the Housing Department, Lands Department, Planning Department and Territory Development Department. For the period up to 2007-08, these sites have the potential for building up to 730 000 flats.

ĦE I must emphasise that this does not mean that the Government has a fixed "flat production target". These 1 000 sites only signify that we have sufficient land (land bank) which can be released for the purpose of building flats.

ĦE Our current pledge is to provide 50 000 housing assistance opportunities in the public sector each year through flats or loans. As regards the private sector, we rely on market forces and commercial decisions to determine how much land is sold or bought in a particular year, and the number of flats to be produced or purchased.

ĦE Lastly, I want to talk about the property market briefly. At present, the market situation is developing in a healthy and stable manner. As compared with the trough, prices of residential properties had increased by 1.5 per cent.

End/Tuesday, October 17, 2000