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Opening remarks by STH at press conference on initiatives of Transport and Housing Bureau in 2013 Policy Address (with video)

     Following is the opening remarks by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, at the press conference today (January 17) on policy initiatives in the 2013 Policy Address:

     Our policy objectives for housing are: 1) to accommodate grass-roots families in public rental housing; 2) to assist the middle class in home ownership; 3) to build a progressive housing ladder; and 4) to maintain the healthy and steady development of the private property market, with priority given to Hong Kong permanent residents.

     The crux of the housing problems we face now is the shortage of supply. The Government is fully committed to increasing the supply of both public and subsidised housing in the coming years, and expediting the building process.

     Our three-year average waiting time target for public rental housing remains unchanged. Under the current Public Housing Construction Programme of the Housing Authority, a total of 75 000 public rental housing units will be completed in the next five years starting from 2012-13, which means an annual average of 15 000 new public rental housing units.

     To meet the increase in demand for public rental housing, we have decided to kick-start strong measures on land supply so that over the following five-year period starting from 2018, the total supply of public rental housing will be at least 100 000 units as a production target. In other words, an annual average of 20 000 public rental housing units.

     Where planning permits and without compromising environmental quality, we will seek to optimise the development potential of each site and increase flat production through relaxing the plot ratio and building height restrictions. We will also critically review the redevelopment potential of the aged public rental housing estates, with a view to better utilising existing land resources.

     For the new Home Ownership Scheme (HOS) programme, a total of 17 000 units will be produced over four years from 2016-17, followed by further increases thereafter. The Hong Kong Housing Society will participate in the supply of subsidised housing. In view of the favourable response towards the Greenview Villa, we have identified another site in Sha Tin and will invite the Housing Society to build a similar development for sale on the site. Around 700 subsidised housing units will be produced.

     Since the latest income limit for subsidised housing is now capped at $40,000 a month, we believe that in future, the income limit for HOS flats should enable those who were previously eligible for the My Home Purchase Plan (MHPP) to become eligible under the HOS. As such, we have decided not to roll out any more MHPP projects, and the Chief Executive had announced that yesterday. The four sites originally earmarked for MHPP will be released to the Housing Authority for HOS development instead.

     In private housing, we estimate that a total of 67 000 first-hand units should come up on the market in the next three to four years, including 48 000 units under construction but not yet sold or offered for sale, 4 000 unsold units of completed projects, and 15 000 units from disposed sites ready for construction. Of course, the actual supply of private housing units ultimately depends on the construction progress of private developers, as well as when the completed flats are put up for sale in the market.

     The Long Term Housing Strategy Steering Committee is presently looking at the medium- to long-term needs of various groups in the community. It will make demand forecasts and propose priorities, to assist the Government in long-term housing planning. Particular attention will be paid to the elderly, non-elderly singletons over the age of 35, and the poorly housed families.

     Public rental housing remains the primary solution for the low-income families. For those poorly housed, including those living in subdivided units, it is also important to adopt measures to address any building and fire safety problems they now face. We will engage a research institution to assess the condition and to project the number of subdivided flats in Hong Kong.

     The Government sees increasing supply as the key to our housing problem. There will be a significant increase in the supply of public and subsidised housing in the coming years as we move forward steadily on our various initiatives.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the opening remarks.)

Ends/Thursday, January 17, 2013
Issued at HKT 16:53


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