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LCQ17: Sizes of PRH units

     Following is a question by the Hon Emily Lau and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Ms Eva Cheng, in the Legislative Council today (April 13):


     It has been reported that during his visit to Hong Kong in late February this year, the mayor of Taipei visited a public rental housing (PRH) estate.  He subsequently indicated that a study was being conducted on the construction of PRH in Taipei, and the unit sizes would be about twice those in Hong Kong, with about 39 square metres (sq m) for single-person units and about 79 sq m for small-family units.  Regarding the sizes and designs of PRH units in Hong Kong, will the Executive Authorities inform this Council:

(a) when and based on what criteria the Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA) formulated the existing standard for PRH space allocation per person;

(b) whether they know in which Asian cities PRH is provided to the residents, the relevant standards for space allocation per person and the average space allocated to each person;

(c) whether they know how the PRH units provided by HA compare with those of other Asian cities in terms of flat size and layout of rooms, broken down by the designed number of occupants per unit, e.g. the sizes and number of rooms for one/two persons, two/three persons, four persons and five persons or more;

(d) whether they have studied how to improve the designs of PRH units so that they will be on a par with or similar to the PRH units of other Asian cities in terms of size and layout; and

(e) whether they have considered designing larger PRH units for the elderly in response to the ageing population?



     The public housing programme in Hong Kong is widely recognised as being among the most comprehensive and effective in Asia, if not the world.  Hong Kong's public housing has kept in pace with the times in various aspects such as design, planning, construction and estate management and provides public housing tenants with many benefits.  We are very willing to share and exchange our successful experience in the development and management of public housing with other places and cities.

     The Government's current subsidised housing policy is to provide public rental housing (PRH) for low-income families who cannot afford private rental accommodation.  The target of the Government and the Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA) is to maintain the average waiting time for PRH at around three years for low-income families in need.   The HA will develop PRH under the principle of optimal utilisation of land resources to maintain development in a most cost-effective and sustainable manner.  PRH resources are limited and we need to allocate PRH in a prudent and rational manner.

     My reply to the five parts of the question is as follows:

(a) With a view to better utilising the PRH resources, the Housing Department will flexibly handle the allocation of PRH.  There are allocation ranges for different types of PRH units with different sizes.  For example, a one-bedroom unit of New Harmony blocks with an internal floor area of about 30 square meters can be allocated to 3 to 4 person households; while a two-bedroom unit with an internal floor area of about 40 square meters can be allocated to 4 to 5 person households.  The allocation of other types of units is also premised on similar allocation ranges as stated above.  The design of different types of PRH units and the above allocation standard have struck a reasonable balance between the practical needs of general PRH applicants and the optimal use of PRH resources.  The actual size of units allocated to the applicants will depend on the supply and demand of PRH units available to the households concerned in the districts at the time.  The mix of unit sizes that are to be included in each development is reviewed on an annual basis taking into account the composition of the waiting list and the past demand for units of different sizes.  Also, the rents of PRH units are calculated with reference to the internal floor area and set at a very reasonable and affordable level.

(b) to (d) Different economies and cities have different characteristics (such as population density, social background and social system) and their policy objectives are also different.  Each place or city would formulate its own housing policies, including PRH policies having regard to its own socio-economic conditions.  

     Some cities may provide PRH to their eligible residents and set different allocation standards for different types of applications.  However, such allocation standards would vary among cities, and so would the design of the units.  Therefore, it is difficult to directly compare the practices in other cities with that of the HA in Hong Kong.

     In Hong Kong, the HA takes into account the life style of local residents and PRH tenants in designing PRH estates, and provide PRH units with pragmatic layout and which are simple yet appropriate for our circumstances.  The HA, under the principle of optimal utilisation of valuable land resources, provides a green environment and ancillary facilities as far as possible so as to create a better living environment for PRH tenants.

     As mentioned above, the public housing programme in Hong Kong is widely recognised as being among the most comprehensive and effective in Asia, if not the world.  Recent PRH projects have won numerous design, building efficiency and other awards.  These clearly demonstrate that modern PRH units comply with the most up-to-date standards of energy efficiency, the use of green technology and smart building techniques for the benefit of the tenants.

(e) The HA is committed to providing elderly PRH tenants with a safe and convenient living environment so as to facilitate "Ageing in Place".

     Over the years, the HA has been improving the design of PRH estates.  Since 2002, the HA has been implementing "Universal Design" in all new PRH projects and has introduced various facilities to enhance the living environment of the elderly.  Examples include provision of pedestrian routes with sufficient width for people in wheelchairs or who need to use walking aids; installation of non-slip floor tiles at corridors, kitchens and bathrooms within all units.  Beyond these arrangements are in place to provide lever type door handles, lever type mixer taps and vertical rod type sliding shower heads within unit. We also arrange installation of large electrical switches and doorbells at optimum locations and will consider other features as appropriate.  The HA constantly reviews the specifications for PRH units to ensure that the standard provisions suit the needs of tenants.

Ends/Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Issued at HKT 13:33


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