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LCQ7: Non-elderly one-person applicants for public rental housing

     Following is a question by the Hon Cyd Ho Sau-lan and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, in the Legislative Council today (July 4):


     As revealed by a survey conducted by an organization, while the number of non-elderly one-person applicants on the Waiting List for public rental housing ("Waiting List") has increased substantially, there is a cap on the number of public rental housing ("PRH") units for allocation to non-elderly one-person applicants.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the existing number of PRH applications, the number of non-elderly one-person applicants on the Waiting List, and the percentage of the number of non-elderly one-person applicants in the total number of PRH applicants;

(b) of the numbers of PRH units already allocated to and those available for allocation to non-elderly one-person applicants;

(c) of the number of PRH units made available for allocation to non-elderly one-person applicants in the past five years after the non-elderly one-person tenants had moved out of the PRH units or been transferred, together with the number of PRH units constructed for allocation to non-elderly one-person applicants in each year;

(d) of the non-elderly one-person applicants' average waiting time for allocation of PRH units; the measures the authorities have in place to shorten the waiting time of non-elderly one-person applicants; and if such measures are not in place, of the reasons for that; and

(e) whether the authorities have projected in the population estimates for 2030 the numbers of non-elderly single persons in the coming 18 years; whether the numbers are projected to increase or decrease, and of the reasons for the increase/decrease; whether the authorities have adjusted the public housing policy in the light of such a trend of demographic change to cater for the housing needs of members of the public?



     The Government and the Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA)'s objective is to provide public rental housing (PRH) to low-income families who cannot afford private rental accommodation, with a target to maintain the Average Waiting Time (AWT) for general applicants at around three years.  The AWT target is not applicable to non-elderly one-person applicants under the Quota and Points System (QPS).

     To rationalize the allocation of limited housing resources and to balance the housing needs among different categories of applicants (including family, elderly and non-elderly one-person applicants, etc), under the current system, the allocation of PRH to non-elderly one-person applicants is subject to the QPS.

     Under the QPS, the relative priority for PRH allocation to applicants is determined by the number of points the applicants receive.  Points are assigned to the applicants on the basis of their ages 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.  The annual allocation quota under the QPS is set at 8% of the number of flats planned to be allocated to Waiting List (WL) applicants, subject to a ceiling of 2 000 units.

     Our reply to the five parts of the question is as follows.

(a)  As at end March 2012, there were 189 500 applications on the WL.  Among them, about 87 800 were non-elderly one-person applications under the QPS, representing 46% of the applications on the WL.

(b) and (c) To effectively utilize PRH resources, the HA at present does not build flats of specific sizes for households with certain numbers of family members, including non-elderly one-person applicants.  PRH units of different types and sizes each has an allocation range for flexible allocation of units to households of suitable sizes.  For example, small units of New Harmony blocks can be allocated to one to two-person households.  Therefore, the HA does not have any statistics on the number or on the allocation of new units or recovered flats specifically for non-elderly one-person applicants.

(d) and (e) As at end March 2012, the AWT of non-elderly one-person applicants rehoused through the QPS was 2.9 years.  It should be noted that such non-elderly one-person applicants rehoused were generally older at the time of application, and thus they had more points.

     As mentioned above, due to limited PRH resources, we must give due regard to and balance the needs of various categories of WL applicants.  Therefore, we need to rationalize through the QPS the housing needs of various applicants, including family, elderly and non-elderly one-person applicants.

     Nevertheless, 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 parents, 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 family 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 with recommendation from the Social Welfare Department for earlier rehousing.

     The Administration does not have a breakdown by the number of non-elderly single persons in the population projections.  However, in light of the significant increase in the number of applications on the WL, and in order to continue to maintain the AWT of general applicants at around three years, we are conducting a review to take stock of the overall demand and supply situation of PRH, including the demand from non-elderly one-person applicants.  The review also covers the number of new units required.  We would also study what action should be taken to respond to the continued rise in the number of PRH applications.  If necessary, we would adjust the production target of the PRH construction programme for the next five years at an average of 15 000 units per year.

Ends/Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Issued at HKT 11:52


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