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Opening remarks by STH cum Chairman of LTHS Steering Committee at the press conference on public consultation on LTHS (with video)

     Following is the opening remarks by the Secretary for Transport and Housing cum Chairman of the Long Term Housing Strategy Steering Committee, Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, at the press conference today (September 3) on public consultation on Long Term Housing Strategy:

     After eleven meetings, the Long Term Housing Strategy Steering Committee has come up with a consultation document on Hong Kong's Long Term Housing Strategy for the next ten years. The consultation document is released today, for a 3-month consultation period to collect public views.

Overall objective

     Hong Kong is facing an acute housing problem, evident from the proliferation of subdivided units, severe undersupply, rising property prices and rents beyond the affordability of the general public. Our housing conditions generally are not commensurate with the economic affluence of our society.

     The theme of our consultation document is "Building Consensus, Building Homes". We call upon the whole community to consider the issues set out in the consultation document, some of them deep-rooted, to make hard choices, and to build consensus on the way forward.  

     Our goal is to provide adequate and affordable housing for each and every Hong Kong family, that is:

(a) to help the grassroots through public rental housing;

(b) to address the housing aspirations of the lower-middle income groups and young first-time home buyers through the provision of Home Ownership Scheme (HOS) and other subsidised sale flats; and

(c) to stabilise the private housing market, with priority given to meeting Hong Kong residents' needs.


     To achieve these objectives, the Government must continuously increase housing supply and rebuild a housing ladder that facilitates upward mobility.

     The main recommendations of the Long Term Housing Strategy Steering Committee are:      

(a) the Government should adopt a more proactive role and a "supply-led" strategy;

(b) the total housing supply target for the next ten years should be set at 470 000 units;

(c) public housing should account for a higher proportion of the new housing production, with a "60:40" split between public and private housing; and

(d) within public housing, the ratio between public rental housing and subsidised sale flats, including the HOS, should have sufficient flexibility. There is also a need for increasing the supply of HOS flats above the number already pledged by the Government.

Demand for public rental housing

     The demand for public housing in the community is always keen. As at June 2013, the number of general applicants for public rental housing (i.e. family and elderly applicants) on the Waiting List stood at 118 700, while the number of non-elderly singleton applicants under the Quota and Points System stood at 115 600.

Inadequately-housed households

     The Steering Committee considers that priority should be given to the grassroot families and elderly, in particular those inadequately-housed households, in the allocation of public rental housing.

     It also urges the Government to intensify the inspection of subdivided units and step up enforcement actions to eradicate subdivided units in industrial buildings.

     The Steering Committee suggests the Government to consider introducing a licensing or landlord registration system to better regulate the safety and hygiene conditions of subdivided units in residential and composite buildings.   

     It also suggests the Government exploring the feasibility of providing special transitional housing on temporarily vacant sites.  

Non-elderly singletons over the age of 35

     The Steering Committee recommends that the Quota and Points System be enhanced, to progressively reduce the waiting time for non-elderly singletons over the age of 35.

     The Housing Authority is also asked to explore the feasibility of building dedicated rental blocks for singletons at suitable in-fill sites within some existing public rental housing estates.

Youngsters and first-time home buyers

     To address the long-term housing aspirations of our younger generations and first-time home buyers, it recommends that the Government identifies more sites for the HOS development.

     The Government should also leverage on the private sector's capacity, through public-private partnership schemes, to increase the supply of suitable and affordable housing for the community.

Rent control and Home Starter Loan

     High rent has become an issue of much concern. The Steering Committee has studied the suggestions of rent subsidy and rent control, but is worried that this might become counter-productive, driving up rents in a tight supply market instead.

     It has also considered the suggestion to relaunch the "Home Starter Loan Scheme", but has come to the conclusion that with acute supply shortage, any such government loan scheme will have the effect of pushing up housing prices.

Housing land supply

     The long term goal of affordable housing for all is only achievable if there is a steady and sufficient supply of land. The Steering Committee urges the Government to continue the extensive review and streamlining of planning requirements and land administration procedures, with a view to releasing more land resources and making the best use of them.  

     Our housing problems are pressing and demand immediate action: we cannot afford to delay. We need to forge a community consensus, and to have the determination to overcome various constraints and hurdles, and set appropriate priorities.

     We must work hard to build a better future for those living in inadequate housing, and for our younger generations.

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

Ends/Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Issued at HKT 20:26


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