LCQ15: Waiting time for Public Rental Housing applications

     Following is a question by the Hon Ronny Tong and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Ms Eva Cheng, in the Legislative Council today (May 25):


     According to the figures provided by the Transport and Housing Bureau ("THB"), there were about 145 000 public rental housing ("PRH") applications on the Waiting List ("WL") as at the end of 2010. Among such applications, the number of general PRH applications had already reached 84 700 while the number of one-person applications under the Quota and Points System ("QPS") was 60 300. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) given that the target of average waiting time ("AWT") currently maintains at three years and the figures provided by THB show that the forecast production of PRH is only 42 200 flats for the next three years (i.e. from 2011-2012 to 2013-2014), whether it is necessary for the authorities to increase the annual PRH production so as to ensure that the WL applicants can be allocated a flat within three years; if it is necessary, of the planned increase in annual PRH production; if not, the reasons for that;

(b) of the number of cases in the past five years of the general PRH applicants actually accepting a flat offer (i.e. being successfully allocated a flat) within three years and the situation of flat allocation, as set out in the table below (See Annex 1):

(c) given that the five-year Public Housing Construction Programme devised by THB provides information on PRH construction for the period up to 2014-2015 only, whether any site has been earmarked at present for the PRH construction plan after such period; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(d) whether the authorities have formulated any strategy at present to effectively deal with the PRH applications submitted by one-person applicants or QPS applicants; if they have, of the details and the estimated waiting time for such applicants; if not, the reasons for that?



     The Government and the Housing Authority (HA)'s objective is to provide public rental housing (PRH) to low-income families who cannot afford private rental accommodation, and the target is to maintain the average waiting time (AWT) for PRH for general Waiting List (WL) applicants (excluding non-elderly one-person applicants under the Quota and Points System (QPS)) at around three years. My reply to the four parts of the question is as follows.

(a) and (c) On the supply of PRH, according to the HA's latest five-year Public Housing Construction Programme (PHCP), we estimate that a total of 75 000 PRH flats will be provided in the coming five-year period starting from 2011/12, i.e. an average of about 15 000 new PRH flats per year. Details are at Annex 2. Together with the existing PRH flats anticipated to be recovered every year, HA estimates that the production programme would meet the target of maintaining the AWT for the general PRH applicants at around three years. We will closely monitor the demand for public housing, roll forward annually the PHCP and suitably adjust the programme according to the latest demand and supply situation.

     Since projects beyond 2015/16 are mostly at an early planning and design stage, and are subject to resolution of various problems such as change of land use, views from the local communities and timing on availability of site (e.g. need for land resumption, clearance and site formation etc), flat production and programme beyond the next five years cannot be determined at this stage.

(b) As regards the WL, under the established calculation methodology, the AWT of general WL applicants refers to the average time taken between registration on the WL and the first flat offer for those rehoused to PRH in the past 12 months, excluding any frozen period during application, for example, when the applicant has not yet fulfilled the residence requirement, the applicant is imprisoned, or the applicant has requested to put his/her application on hold pending arrival of family member(s) for family reunion, etc. The aforementioned calculation methodology counting the time between registration and first flat offer forms the basis for formulating and maintaining the target of keeping the AWT at around three years. While eligible applicants are given three flat offers, the applicants are provided with a housing opportunity right from the first offer. It is a matter of personal choice if the applicant declines the first flat offer to wait for subsequent offers. Thus, the waiting time is counted up to the first flat offer.  

     The number of rehoused general WL applicants, their AWT and distribution of acceptance of offer in the past 5 years are tabulated below (See Annex 3).

     Separately, as at end of March of 2006/07, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2009/10 and 2010/11, 55 000, 51 900, 56 400, 62 800 and 74 300 general applications on the WL had not received any flat offer respectively. However, it should be noted that while waiting on the WL, applicants' circumstances may change, rendering them ineligible for PRH. When the applicants are due for allocation, they must undergo detailed vetting prior to PRH allocation. As such, not all applications on the WL would need PRH. In the five years aforementioned, 7 400, 7 900, 8 600, 7 500 and 5 800 general WL applications were cancelled due to various reasons including failure to pass the eligibility vetting prior to allocation, refusal of all flat offers etc.

(d) As regards non-elderly one-person applicants, under the QPS, the relative priority of PRH allocation is determined by the points the applicants have, and the points are determined by applicants' age at registration, their waiting time and whether they are PRH tenants. In general, older applicants at registration or those who have waited for a longer period of time would have higher points. As new applicants with higher points may join the queue, the relative priority for allocation among applicants under QPS would change. In addition, depending on the choice of District and the distribution of supply of PRH flats in different Districts, applicants with the same number of points may have different waiting time in different Districts. Therefore we are unable to estimate the waiting time of non-elderly one-person applicants.

     In fact, under the current PRH application arrangements, apart from applying under the QPS, non-elderly one-person applicants can also apply for PRH together with their family members. To encourage the younger generation to live together with their elderly relative(s), the HA has introduced a host of enhanced housing arrangements to foster family harmony. Under the Harmonious Families Addition Scheme, eligible adult offspring may apply for addition to the tenancy of elderly tenants. Under the Harmonious Families Priority Scheme, young people may apply with their elderly relative(s) for a PRH flat of any District of their choice and enjoy a 6-month credit waiting time. For eligible non-elderly one-person applicants with pressing need for housing, they may apply for the Express Flat Allocation Scheme, or compassionate rehousing through recommendations by the Social Welfare Department for earlier rehousing.

Ends/Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Issued at HKT 12:24