LCQ9: Living areas of public housing tenants

     Following is a question by the Hon Albert Chan Wai-yip and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Ms Eva Cheng, in the Legislative Council today (9 May 2012):


     I have learnt that the living areas of quite a number of public rental housing ("PRH") tenants are below 5.5 square metres ("m²") per person at present.  Although such tenants, being overcrowded households, have already applied to the authorities for years for transfer to larger PRH flats, the authorities have not yet arranged for them to move to more spacious flats so far.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a)  of the respective numbers of PRH tenants with a living area per person below 5.5m² and between 5.5m² and 7m² in each of the past three years;

(b)  among the two types of PRH tenants in (a), of the respective numbers of applications for transfer to larger flats in each of the past three years; of the respective numbers of successful transfers; of the shortest and longest waiting time calculated from the submission of application to the allocation of a suitable flat; and

(c)  whether the authorities will consider improving the existing policies so that more PRH tenants with a living area below 7m² per person may be transferred to more spacious PRH flats; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     In order to improve the living condition of public rental housing (PRH) tenants, the Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA) currently conducts two Territory-wide Overcrowding Relief (TWOR) exercises and one Living Space Improvement Transfer Scheme (LSITS) exercise every year so that PRH tenants with an internal floor area (IFA) below 5.5 square metres and 7 square metres per person respectively may apply for transfer to flats of a larger size.

     In launching the TWOR exercise, we will compile a list of "Flats Available for Flat Selection" on the basis of suitable resources available at the time and deliver notices to all overcrowded households (i.e. households with an IFA of less than 5.5 square metres per person), to invite eligible tenants to apply for transfer.  Eligible tenants may select flats of a suitable size from their eligible districts on the list of "Flats Available for Flat Selection".  Under the Scheme, applications for each exercise are processed independently.  Applicants who fail to select a suitable flat in an exercise can apply afresh should they remain eligible in the next round of application.  According to our statistics, the number of overcrowded households has dropped from about 18 000 (about 3.1% of all PRH households) at the launch of the scheme in 2001 to about 3 000 (about 0.45% of all PRH households) at the end of 2011-12.  The number of households with an IFA below 7 square metres per person has also dropped from about 34 000 before the launch of LSITS in 2006 to about 24 000 at the end of 2011-12.

     The reply to the three parts of the question raised by the Hon CHAN is as follows:

(a)  As at the end March 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12, the number of PRH tenants with an IFA of less than 5.5 square metres per person was about 3 300, 3 200 and 3 200 respectively, while the number of PRH tenants with an IFA ranging from 5.5 to 7 square metres per person was about 22 900, 21 800 and 21 200 respectively.

(b) and (c)  In both the TWOR and the LSITS exercises conducted from 2009-10 to 2011-12, the number of applicants eligible for transfer, and the number of households that succeeded in transferring to flats of a larger size in the respective year are set out below:

(I)  TWOR exercises:

Year of          2009-10   2010-11   2011-12
launching of

No. of eligible    1 703     1 922     1 837
No. of successful    722       788      515*

*  Another 89 tenants have chosen flats in the newly-completed Tung Wui Estate, Shek Kip Mei Estate and Un Chau Estate.  As intake of these estates has not yet commenced in 2011-12, tenancy agreements remain to be signed.  Another 33 tenants have chosen to transfer to vacant flats in existing housing estates and tenancy agreements will be signed only upon the completion of the refurbishment work.

(II)  LSITS exercises:

     In 2011-12, the LSITS was not open for application until March 2012.  The applications received are still being processed, so we are unable to provide the relevant figures for 2011-12.  The figures for 2009-10 and 2010-11 are as follows:

Year of launching of exercise     2009-10  2010-11

No. of eligible applications         3 534   4 196
No. of successful tenants            1 058   1 381

     Since the above schemes are launched on a yearly basis, applicants have to re-apply every time when the exercise is conducted.  Unlike applicants on the PRH Waiting List, applicants of the above schemes are not put on a waiting list for allocation, so the Housing Department does not have the figures of the shortest and the longest time recorded for an applicant to be allocated a flat after submitting an application.

     As the above schemes are effective, we are of the view that the above arrangements should be maintained, i.e. the TWOR exercise should be conducted twice a year and the LSITS exercise should be conducted once a year, so that the limited public housing resources are fairly distributed among the Waiting List applicants and different categories of PRH tenants.

Ends/Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Issued at HKT 11:42