Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Email this article
LCQ6: Provision of public housing to grassroots

     Following is a question by the Hon Lee Wing-tat and an oral reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Ms Eva Cheng, in the Legislative Council today (November 2):


     It has been reported that when the Chief Executive attended a radio programme on October 19 this year, he said that the 2011-2012 Policy Address had endeavoured to solve the housing problem to provide housing for the grassroots.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number of non-elderly one-person applicants aged 30 or above among the approximately 150 000 applications for public rental housing (PRH) at present; under the existing Quota and Points System (QPS), the average points of those applicants in the age groups of 30 to 39 and 40 to 49 who are allocated PRH; the respective numbers of years for which non-elderly one-person applicants aged 35 and those aged 45 who apply for PRH today will have to wait to obtain the points required for PRH allocation; and how the authorities will help them move into PRH flats as soon as possible;

(b) given that the authorities have indicated that they will appropriately increase the densities and plot ratios of PRH projects, and as the construction of additional new PRH flats will increase the supply of PRH and the resumption of the construction of Home Ownership Scheme (HOS) flats will help vacate more old PRH flats for allocation, whether the authorities will reconsider re-launching the Tenants Purchase Scheme at an appropriate time to enable sitting PRH tenants to purchase their PRH flats; and

(c) whether the authorities have considered relaxing the resale restrictions in the HOS secondary market to allow eligible white form HOS applicants to apply to purchase those HOS flats, thereby enhancing the vibrancy of the HOS resale market and providing low and middle-income families with more opportunities to buy their own homes?



     My answer to the three-part question is as follows:

     The first part of the question:

     The Housing Authority (HA)'s objective is to provide public rental housing (PRH) to low-income families who cannot afford private rental accommodation. To this end, the HA maintains a Waiting List (WL) of PRH applicants. HA's target is to maintain the Average Waiting Time (AWT) at around three years for general applicants.

     As at end June 2011, there were 155 600 applications on the WL. Among them, about 66 600 applications were non-elderly one-person applications under the QPS. Among the 66 600 non-elderly one-person applications under the QPS, about 35 000 applicants (53%) were aged 30 or above.

     The relative priority for PRH allocation to applicants under the QPS is determined by the number of points the applicants receive.  Points are assigned to the applicants on the basis of their age at the time of submitting the PRH applications, the waiting time and whether they are PRH tenants. In general, the older the applicant and the longer the applicant has waited, the higher the number of points. The higher the number of points accumulated, the earlier an applicant will be offered a PRH flat.  

     Among non-elderly one-person applicants housed through the QPS in 2010/11, the average number of points for those aged 30 to 39 was 140 and the average number for those aged 40 to 49 was 142. However, the lowest number of points accumulated by applicants to be housed through the QPS will change from time to time and vary across districts, depending on the distribution of points among applicants as well as the overall demand and supply of PRH flats in individual districts. Accordingly, it is not possible to estimate how many points are required for applicants to be housed or how long would the applicants need to wait before they are housed.  

     Under the existing arrangements, apart from applying for PRH under the QPS, non-elderly one-person applicants can also apply for PRH as ordinary family applicants together with their family members. To encourage the younger generation to live together with their elderly members, the HA has introduced a number 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 (HFPS), young people may apply with their elderly member(s) for a PRH flat and enjoy a six-month credit waiting time. Unlike the other non-elderly applicants, the applicants under the HFPS can apply for PRH flats in any districts, including the urban district. Eligible non-elderly one-person applicants with a pressing need for housing may apply under the Express Flat Allocation Scheme, or Compassionate Rehousing whereby with a recommendation from the Social Welfare Department (SWD) they may secure earlier allocation of PRH flats.

     According to the latest Public Housing Construction Programme, in the coming five-year period from 2011/12 to 2015/16, the HA will build about 75 000 flats in total, i.e. an average of 15 000 PRH flats per year.  It is estimated that this level of new production, together with the recovered flats from the existing stock, should continue to meet the policy objective of maintaining the AWT for general applicants at around three years.

     However, the production of 15 000 new PRH units per year is not a fixed target. Our objective is to maintain the AWT for general applicants at around three years. To this end, the HA will roll forward and review the five-year Public Housing Construction Programme every year. When necessary, the HA will adjust and increase the production volume in order to keep the AWT for general applicants at around three years.

     The second part of the question:

     The Tenants Purchase Scheme (TPS) was introduced in 1998 by the HA to enable PRH tenants to buy the flats they lived in at a discounted price, thereby helping to achieve the then policy objective of attaining a home ownership rate of 70% in Hong Kong in ten years' time.

     In 2002, the Government re-positioned the housing policies, and decided to focus on the provision of PRH to low-income families who cannot afford private rental accommodation, with a target of maintaining the AWT for general WL applicants at around three years.  As there was no longer a target for home ownership, there were no longer any grounds for continuing the TPS. Accordingly, the HA decided to cease the sale of PRH flats upon the completion of Phases 6A and 6B of the TPS.

     We do not have any plans at this stage to re-launch the TPS.  There are two main considerations ¡V

     First, recovered flats are an important source of public housing supply for WL applicants. There are currently over 150 000 applicants on the WL for PRH.  PRH flats, once sold to the tenants, will not be returned to the HA for re-allocation, thereby affecting the turnover and supply of PRH flats and undermining the HA's ability to maintain the AWT of general applicants at around three years.  

     Moreover, since the introduction of the TPS, the HA has encountered many problems with the management of PRH flats in TPS estates. In the 39 TPS estates, there are some 64 000 rental flats (representing 35% of the total number of flats in the TPS estates).  Regardless of the number of flats sold, a TPS estate, as in the case of any private development, is managed by its Owners' Corporation (OC).  Empowered by the Building Management Ordinance and the Deed of Mutual Covenant, the OC will decide on the mode of management and how the public areas of an estate are to be managed. In the TPS estates, the HA's estate management policies cannot be fully implemented. As a result, tenants living in the TPS estates and those living in the PRH estates are subject to different management regimes. For example, the Marking Scheme for Estate Management Enforcement is not implemented in the public areas of the TPS estates. The HA can only deal with the misdeeds committed in rental flats of the TPS estates.

     Although we do not intend to re-launch the TPS, under the current policy, the existing tenants in the TPS estates can still opt to buy the flats they are living in. PRH residents who would like to acquire a home may also choose to buy TPS and Home Ownership Scheme (HOS) flats with premium not yet paid in the secondary market.

     The third part of the question:

     The HOS secondary market allows the existing PRH tenants and other Green Formers to buy HOS flats with premium not yet paid. The objective is to provide them an avenue through which to attain home ownership and at the same time vacate more PRH units for allocation to persons in genuine need.

     Allowing those who qualify for White Form status to purchase HOS flats with premium not yet paid on the HOS secondary market requires detailed consideration, including whether the proposal aligns with the objectives of HOS secondary market, which are to promote the mobility of PRH tenants and at the same time to recover PRH units for reallocation. Other issues include whether the supply of HOS flats can effectively match with the demand. All these would have to be looked at carefully.

     Nevertheless, in response to the aspirations of low and middle-income families to buy their own homes, the Chief Executive has put forward two buffering measures, including a new policy for the resumption of the HOS and enhancement of the "My Home Purchase Plan" ("MHPP").  Those who are interested to apply may choose to do so in accordance with their own needs and affordability.

     To conclude, the Government will continue to uphold its long-term commitment of providing PRH to low income families and persons who cannot afford private rental accommodation, by completing at present around 15 000 PRH units on average per year to meet the target of maintaining an AWT of three years for general WL applicants.  However, as I have just mentioned, the production of 15 000 new PRH units per year is not a fixed target.  The objective is to maintain the AWT for general applicants at around three years. When necessary, the HA will increase the production volume in order to keep the AWT for general applicants at around three years.

     For households with plans to acquire homes, there are diversified choices on the housing ladder, including HOS flats with premium not yet paid on the secondary market, HOS flats with premium paid on the open market, new HOS flats or MHPP flats, and flats of different prices on the private market, including those at prices that are affordable by the general public. Overall, there are choices at various levels on the housing ladder for the prospective buyers. Those who aspire to acquire homes can flexibly arrange their plans to acquire home ownership depending on their individual economic and family circumstances.

Ends/Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Issued at HKT 16:01


Print this page