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LCQ16: Public housing policies
     Following is a question by the Hon Doreen Kong and a written reply by the Acting Secretary for Housing, Mr Victor Tai, in the Legislative Council today (May 10):
     Regarding public housing policies, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether the Hong Kong Housing Authority will conduct an in-depth review on the planning, layout, design and supporting facilities of new public housing projects, and conduct an extensive consultation with professionals and members of the public, so as to keep the building quality and design of public housing abreast of the times and shorten the construction time; if not, of the reasons for that;
(2) given that the Housing Bureau will develop "Well‑Being" design guidelines for new public housing projects, of the progress of the relevant work and the stakeholders participating in the relevant work; and
(3) given that a number of public rental housing (PRH) tenants have relayed to me that flats under the Green Form Subsidised Home Ownership Scheme are small and expensive, while Home Ownership Scheme flats are priced too high, an important home ownership ladder is missing between PRH and the two subsidised sale housing schemes, whether the current-term Government will consider launching more dedicated home ownership schemes to assist more grassroots and PRH tenants in purchasing their homes; if not, of the reasons for that?
     The consolidated reply to the questions of Hon Doreen Kong is as follows:
(1) The Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA) has all along been formulating detailed and appropriate planning, layout, design and ancillary facilities provision for each public housing development project, and continuously exchanging views with industry stakeholders on new construction methods and technologies through various means in order to improve the workflow of housing construction and enhance onsite productivity. For example, the HA organised industry forums and workshops in May 2021, January 2022 and July 2022 respectively, which were attended by over 100 industry stakeholders including trade associations, contractors, as well as members of the HA and representatives from the Development Bureau, to discuss and collect views on proposals for expediting construction process, including the application of Modular Integrated Construction, construction robotics application and other innovative technologies to enhance quality and to control costs.
     The HA will also collect tenants' feedback of public housing projects after flat in-take by conducting resident surveys to gauge tenants' views on the newly completed public housing, in order to continuously review and enhance the planning, architectural quality and design for public housing developments.
(2) The Housing Department (HD) commissioned a consultant in the first quarter of 2023 to develop a "Well-being design" guide for new public housing projects by 2024. The consultant has been working closely with HD in making recommendations on the framework and directions of design guide. During the process of developing the design guide, the consultant will also hold consultation and engagement activities for various stakeholders including residents, professional groups, academia, welfare organisations and government departments, etc.
(3) The Government and the HA have all along been striving to enhance the housing ladder, with a view to helping low to middle-income families, including PRH tenants, achieve home ownership. To make Home Ownership Scheme (HOS) flats more affordable to target households, HOS pricing mechanism was revised in 2018 so that flat prices are delinked from the price of private property market. Under the revised pricing mechanism, at least 75 per cent of the flats for sale can allow non-owner occupier households earning the median monthly household income to spend no more than 40 per cent of their monthly income on mortgage payment. According to the revised pricing mechanism, the average discount rate of the last three HOS sale exercises is around 42 per cent, which is higher than the discount rate of around 30 per cent before the mechanism was adjusted. 
     In addition, in response to the PRH tenants' home ownership aspirations, the HA regularised the Green Form Subsidised Home Ownership Scheme (GSH) in 2018 to provide PRH tenants with an additional opportunity to move up the housing ladder. In accordance with the prevailing pricing mechanism, GSH flats are sold at a discount of 10 per cent more than that determined for the preceding HOS sale exercise. Based on recent sales experience, the HA understands that smaller GSH flats are less attractive. The Chief Executive announced in the 2022 Policy Address that the saleable area of all subsidised sale flats (SSFs) completed from 2026-27 onward will be no less than 26 square metres in general. The HA will follow the strategy and direction of the Policy Address when determining the flat mix of SSFs put up for sale in future.
     Apart from HOS and GSH, in order to enhance the home ownership opportunities of PRH tenants, the HA also endorsed in July 2020 to put up rental flats recovered from Tenants Purchase Scheme (TPS) estates for sale to Green Form applicants in the HOS and GSH sale exercises, and adopting the existing TPS pricing mechanism and alienation restrictions. As at March 2023, unsold TPS flats are priced between around $140,00 to $1,230,000, which is around 15 per cent to 19 per cent of assessed market price.
     The Government and the HA will continue to strive to increase housing supply, and make use of different rungs of the housing ladder to meet the home ownership aspirations of the public.
Ends/Wednesday, May 10, 2023
Issued at HKT 12:51
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