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LCQ 13: Eligibility for subsidised housing of a married person whose spouse was a beneficiary of any subsidised home ownership scheme before marriage
     Following is a question by the Hon Chan Hak-kan and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Mr Frank Chan Fan, in the Legislative Council today (November 15):


     The Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA) requires that a married person applying for renting a public rental housing (PRH) flat or purchasing a Home Ownership Scheme (HOS) flat must make the application together with his or her spouse, and a person who, or whose spouse, is a former beneficiary of any subsidised home ownership scheme is ineligible to apply.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the respective numbers of applications made in each of the past three years by couples (i) for renting PRH flats, (ii) for purchasing HOS flats, and (iii) for renting PRH flats under the Civil Service Public Housing Quota Scheme, which were rejected by HA on the ground that either person of the couples was a former beneficiary of a subsidised home ownership scheme;

(2) of the authorities' justifications for implementing the aforesaid requirements;

(3) given that married persons will be disqualified from applying for renting PRH flats or purchasing HOS flats if their spouses were a beneficiary of any subsidised home ownership scheme before marriage, and yet such persons were/are members of different families before and after marriage, whether the authorities have reviewed if the aforesaid requirements (i) are fair to those persons and (ii) have contravened the Family Status Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 527); if so, of the outcome of the review; if not, whether they will seek legal advice in this respect immediately; and

(4) of the date when the authorities last reviewed the requirements, and whether they have plans to conduct another review afresh?



     According to the existing housing policy, public rental housing (PRH) and subsidised home ownership schemes (SHOSs) (Note 1) aim to assist low-to-middle-income families who cannot afford private housing to meet their housing needs. 

     To ensure the rational allocation of public housing resources, past beneficiaries of SHOSs and their spouses (including spouses of those who were unmarried at the time of purchase of the flat) are not allowed to submit further applications for purchasing flats under various SHOSs and for PRH, even after they sold their flats; sold their flats back to the Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA) or repaid their loans.  However, their unmarried children (including families subsequently formed by them) are not subject to this restriction.

     On the other hand, HA has formulated a set of parameters for discretionary acceptance of applications for PRH by discretion from past beneficiaries of SHOSs with genuine hardships. The relevant criteria are as follows:

(1) Compassionate rehousing through the Social Welfare Department (SWD)

     Households suffering from exceptional hardship on medical or social grounds can apply to SWD for rehousing in PRH under compassionate rehousing; and

(2) Discretionary arrangement through HA

     HA can exercise discretion for accepting applications for PRH from people who are suffering from genuine hardship, including:

(i) adjudicated bankruptcy; 
(ii) financial hardship resulting in the need for Comprehensive Social Security Assistance;
(iii) adverse changes to family circumstances such as divorce, death of bread-winner, etc.;
(iv) a significant drop in household income resulting in difficulties in financing the home purchase; or
(v) households beset with medical and social problems but not to the extent to qualify for compassionate rehousing.

     The above are long established rules which strike a balance between rational allocation of public housing resources and helping households with special needs.  There is no intention of discriminating or preventing past beneficiaries of SHOSs from applying for PRH or SHOSs due to their family status.  Taking into account the persistent strong demand for PRH and long waiting time of PRH applicants, HA has no plan to review these rules.

     We have no statistical records on the number of rejected applications for PRH units, HOS flats and PRH units under the Civil Service Public Housing Quota Scheme by the ground that the spouses were past beneficiaries of SHOSs.

Note: SHOSs include Home Ownership Scheme/Private Sector Participation Scheme, Sandwich Class Housing Scheme/Housing Loan Scheme, Flat-for-Sale Scheme, Home Starter Loan Scheme, Home Purchase Loan Scheme, Mortgage Subsidy Scheme, Buy or Rent Option and Green Form Subsidised Home Ownership Scheme.
Ends/Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Issued at HKT 12:40
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