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Old January 4th, 2010, 04:56 PM   #101
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Family facing eviction finger URA for lack of housing
31 December 2009
South China Morning Post

A family who have received their landlord's order to move out of their rented home in Sham Shui Po staged a protest yesterday, saying the Urban Renewal Authority failed to provide accommodation after announcing a redevelopment project on their site.

Io Chengpou and his wife Li Chunfang, tenants of a flat at 69 Shun Ning Road for seven years, were told to leave by their landlords, named Lam and Lau, who sought a court order to evict them. The couple live with their two daughters and pay about HK$2,000 a month for the 200 square foot flat.

They refused to leave and were supported by about 30 people, including other tenants. After hours of protest, court bailiffs called Io to say they were not coming.

Li said: "The problem is that the URA doesn't recognise our status as tenants. It is not that the landlord doesn't have a right to evict us."

She said she did not want the cash allowance provided by the authority, but a public housing unit - an offer available only to those who can live there until the URA starts acquiring the properties from owners.

The URA is waiting for the government's approval of the redevelopment, announced in June, in order to start property acquisition and hand out compensation. A survey done right after the announcement registered the names of owners and tenants, including the couple's.

However, as soon as the survey was done, the landlord asked the family to leave, giving one month's notice. This means they will not be eligible for the public housing offer.

Li said the authority had declined to accept their status as tenants and turned them away on three occasions. "URA knows there is a legal loophole, but it is not doing anything about it," she said.

A URA spokesman said it was in no legal position to arrange for public housing as the government had not approved the project. He said the tenancy records collected in the survey were for reference only.

The URA, however, has doubled the relocation allowance - meant for tenants who are asked to leave by the landlord before their tenancy expires - for about 10 residents, including the couple. The money is equal to 10 to 19 months of their rentals.

It is unknown why the landlord, who could not be reached for comment, wants to evict the tenants even though, according to the URA, the move will not benefit him financially.
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Old February 2nd, 2010, 12:29 PM   #102
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Students and graduates in queue for public flats
1 February 2010
South China Morning Post

University students and new graduates in Hong Kong are joining the queue for public flats in increasing numbers.

Many think high property prices are the reason for this but analysis shows that it is probably not, and that deteriorating social conditions for young people are a contributory factor.

Housing Authority figures show the total number of single people aged under 30 waiting for public flats has increased by 60 per cent in the past four years, from 13,400 in 2006 to 21,300 applicants last year.

While the number of those from the so-called post-80s generation accounts for more than 40 per cent of all single applicants, interviews by the South China Morning Post found that some had applied before graduating from university.

Surveys by the authority last year found that 37 per cent of applicants in this age group had received post-secondary and tertiary education in contrast to the 20 per cent recorded in 2005.

Faced with criticism that well educated youngsters are competing for public resources along with the deprived, the authority introduced a quota system for single and non-elderly applicants in 2005. This limits the number of flats allocated to such applicants to 2,000, or about 8 per cent of the total number of flats allocated each year.

The system accepts only single applicants whose salaries are not higher than HK$7,789, including the 5 per cent contributed to the Mandatory Provident Fund. A points system was also devised in 2005 to give lower priority to younger applicants, with no points given to those aged 18 and three points given for every year of age above 18. Hence, those who are 19 receive three points while those who are 59 get 123 points. The higher the score, the faster applicants are given public flats.

Despite the government intervention, the number of new applicants aged under 30 was more than 4,000 last year - just 200 fewer than the 4,400 applicants registered in 2005. The authority did not disclose how many eventually obtained a flat, but the queue is lengthening.

"The unreasonably expensive flats have made our life difficult, especially those who want to move out and live their own life," Fredrick Fan Cheung-fung, external vice-president of the Chinese University student union said.

Fan, whose university friends are queuing for public flats, said his generation was facing intense competition when searching for jobs, with small pay rises and longer queues for promotion.

"We are living in a less favourable environment compared to the last generation. Why should we give our money to developers? Those criticising us for opting for public flats do not understand and do not respect our rights," he said.

Recognising the difficulties faced by the post-80s generation, experts studying the property market said the property boom was not the direct cause of young people's desire to secure public flats.

Quoting his study on the supply of flats sold or rented at low-to-medium prices, chair professor of the University of Hong Kong's department of real estate and construction Professor Chau Kwong-wing said flats renting for about HK$5,000 a month were freely available in the city.

"These flats are usually smaller than 700 square feet and most are located in the New Territories, which may not be appealing to the new generation," he said.

Chau is not opposed to students applying for public housing, but said the phenomenon was more of a social issue than a housing problem. "The youngsters are not secure. They can't see their future after graduation. Why not queue for public housing? It costs less," he said.

Analysis by the Centaline Property Agency shows the value of major estates has risen by about 40 per cent since 2005.

But the company's associate director, Wong Leung-sing, said households' ability to buy private flats had remained steady, with the amount of their monthly mortgage payments still accounting for about a third of their monthly income.

This was due to the drop in interest rates and also to small pay rises, Wong said. "The affordability index is still at a healthy level."

While property appears to be affordable to those whose median monthly income has increased by 5 per cent from 1997 to 2008, those aged between 15 and 19, and 20 and 24 have seen their salaries fall by 10 to 15 per cent in the same period.

Salaries in these two age groups have been lowered from HK$6,500 to HK$5,500 and HK$8,500 to HK$7,500, respectively, data from the Census and Statistics Department shows.

"I don't think public flats are their favourite choice," political scientist at Chinese University Ma Ngok said. "Perhaps we should ask why they have become poor. While wanting to be independent, they have to return government loans and face frequent layoffs and pay cuts."

He said the phenomenon was not purely a housing issue and if not addressed soon young people's frustration could lead to social unrest.

Dr Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung, a former lawmaker and a lecturer in applied social sciences at Polytechnic University, said queuing for public flats was not an irresponsible act. "They just feel pessimistic about their future," he said.

Cheung said he expected the new generation to speak out more frequently on controversial issues and for their rights.
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Old February 3rd, 2010, 08:27 PM   #103
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Greening grows on Hong Kong as some cool ideas take root
24 January 2010
SCMP

Hong Kong's public housing estates are going green. In recent years, the Housing Authority has been using its public housing estates as laboratories for the latest green technologies, a move that could help reduce Hong Kong's air pollution and encourage more sustainable building practices.

Some of the authority's latest efforts can be seen in Yau Lai Estate, a newly built housing estate in Yau Tong that opened last year.

Standing near the estate's main entrance are three green walls covered in a mix of grass and climbing plants. While the walls also serve a decorative purpose - the arrangement of red and green plants on one is based on a drawing of a fish made by Yau Tong schoolchildren - a study completed last November found that the greenery cooled temperatures on the walls' exterior surface by up to 16 degrees Celsius. Temperatures on their interior surface dropped by 1.5 to 3.5 degrees.

If the green walls are adopted on a widespread basis, they could significantly reduce housing estates' energy consumption by cutting air-conditioning costs, said the Housing Authority's chief architect, Clifford Cheng Chiu-yeung.

They would also help cool the outside ambient temperatures. That in turn would reduce Hong Kong's urban heat-island effect, which has been making summer weather even hotter and more unstable than normal. The walls are part of a collection of tools the Housing Authority is using to green its estates. Ten green roofs have been built over the past few years, mostly on low-rise structures within the housing estates, such as wet markets and rubbish depots.

Twenty per cent of each new housing estate land area is now required to be devoted to greenery, and the authority plants one tree for every 15 residents. "We've begun to rethink how we should build," said Ada Fung Yin-suen, the authority's deputy director of development and construction. "Slowly and gradually over the past 10 years, we've increased the greening ratio of our properties by planting more trees and gardens, but also by looking into things like green roofs."

Each green wall and green roof is a testing ground for different types of plants and maintenance techniques. Before planting, a root barrier and several drainage layers are built on the roof, followed by a lightweight soil mix. At Choi Ying Estate in Kowloon Bay, a layer of grass was laid on top of a shopping centre. In nearby Diamond Hill, Fu Shan Estate's wet market was covered by different-coloured species of sedums - a small, water-retaining shrub - arranged in the pattern of a fish, a design meant to symbolise prosperity.

Hong Kong's long, hot summers limit the number of plants that can be used. According to Evans Iu Po-lung, the Housing Authority's chief landscape architect, only three of 50 species of sedums can survive here.

In one experiment at Ching Ho Estate in Sheung Shui, a green roof covered in sedums was not watered for three months in an experiment meant to test the plants' durability. More than 70 per cent died.

"Originally, we used some decorative plants in our greening projects, but we were criticised by ecologists, so we're exploring more native species," said Iu. One local species of wedelia, a creeping plant, was rejected for use on roofs and the ground because it attracted rats, but it has proven effective for vertical greening.

The Housing Authority's willingness to experiment has been a boon for local developers of green building technologies. The walls at Yau Lai Estate make use of a newly patented green panel technology developed by Strongly International. Having a high-profile public body like the Housing Authority as a client has helped the company demonstrate that its technology is feasible, said its technical director, Jaime Yeung.

Strongly's products use a soil substitute made from a mixture of organic materials such as bark and recycled paper. It weighs 90 per cent less than natural soil, and does not settle and harden when wet. For a green wall, the soil is placed in small plastic pots that are plugged into brackets on a steel frame. About 30 different plants can be used, depending on wind conditions, the local microclimate and how much maintenance a client is willing to perform, said Yeung.

Strongly's own studies have shown that a green wall can reduce interior temperatures by as much as 8 degrees, he said. But it is harder to estimate how much of an impact a green roof or green wall has on the city's wider environment.

"The heat-island effect in Hong Kong is more severe than in other parts of the world because it's very congested and the ventilation is poor because of all the high-rises," he said. "But the impact depends on the density of installations. If you only have a 10-square-metre wall in an area like Mong Kok, it won't make much difference. It really depends on government policy to make it more commonplace."

The problem is that green-panel technology is expensive to implement and maintain. A green wall that Strongly developed for Sau Mau Ping Estate in Kwun Tong cost HK$6,000 per square metre to build. Annual maintenance can cost 3 to 8 per cent of the wall's initial construction cost.

For the Housing Authority, which draws most of its revenue from rental income, the expense of building green walls and green roofs means that only a handful of projects can be completed each year. "We want to green everything possible, but we can't do it extensively unless costs come down," said Fung.

Jim Chi-yung, a professor of geography at the University of Hong Kong, is currently performing a vertical greening experiment on the roof of the university's main library. "Very few people are willing to invest millions of dollars to green a wall," he said. "Some developers are trying to put flower pots on walls, basically. We should make use of nature's climbers without having to put soil on the walls. Otherwise the methods used are so expensive."

Another problem is public awareness. Hong Kong has been slow to embrace green technologies, said Iu, because many people in Hong Kong still are not aware of the city's environmental challenges. In one estate, he said, residents who were allergic to pollen from native cottonwood trees asked the Housing Authority to chop the trees down; it refused.

"Most people brought up in such an urban environment have no knowledge of nature," he said.

"Many people are scared of caterpillars, without realising they are harmless, for example. We need to change the mentality of people towards greening if we want to go forward. The most critical thing is to get our residents to accept and agree with what we're trying to do."

For that reason, the Housing Authority is investing in so-called environmental "software" to complement hardware like green roofs. Last year, it invited tenants to grow their own plants in estate gardens.

Back at Yau Lai Estate, the green walls have been well received. Oscar Wong, 19, was walking to the MTR when he stopped to gaze at one of them. "I think it's good for the environment," he said. "In Hong Kong the air is very polluted, and maybe this can help make it cleaner."
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Old February 4th, 2010, 06:45 AM   #104
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Housing Society to sell more than 400 flats in Tseung Kwan O
4 February 2010
South China Morning Post

The Housing Society is going to put on sale 464 "sandwich-class" flats in Tseung Kwan O next month for families and single people.

The flats are all at The Pinnacle, a housing estate completed in 1997 under the society's sandwich class housing scheme. Sizes range from 568 square feet to 827 square feet.

"We are prudent and confident about the market because the Home Ownership Scheme flats that went on sale recently were popular," Wong Kit-loong, its chief executive and executive director, said. Wong said the flats should cost no more than HK$3 million each. He said the society would refer to second-hand flats in Tseung Kwan O and at The Pinnacle, where selling prices hovered between HK$3,400 and HK$3,600 per square foot last month.

It has been almost two years since the society put flats on the market. It released 438 new flats in three estates in mid-2008, giving a discount of 18 per cent compared with second-hand properties in the same areas.

Surveyor Pang Siu-kei said second-hand properties in Tseung Kwan O now ranged from HK$3,200 to HK$3,700 per square foot. Applying the earlier discount, the sandwich-class flats should be cheaper than those in that range.

Pang said the closeness of The Pinnacle to Tseung Kwan O MTR station was an advantage, but the downside was the flats, although unoccupied, were at least a decade old.

Families with monthly household incomes of between HK$23,001 and HK$39,000 and assets below HK$1.2 million will be given priority in applying for the flats.

Single people earning less than HK$19,500 a month and owning assets of less than HK$600,000 can also apply. Applications open on March 3.
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Old February 4th, 2010, 07:59 AM   #105
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Tenants may face small rent rise in public flats
4 February 2010
South China Morning Post

Public housing tenants may have to pay higher rents this summer - if their household income was HK$13 a month higher last year than in 2007.

A government survey shows the mean household income of public housing tenants was HK$13,233 a month in 2007. If the mean changed by 0.1 per cent last year, a rent review mechanism will be triggered.

The income-based rent adjustment mechanism, introduced in 2007, ensures public housing rent changes in line with the household income of tenants.

The Housing Authority conducts a rent review every two years. If the income index for the second period is higher or lower than that for the first period, the authority will change the rent according to the rate. If the change in income is less than 0.1 per cent, the rent will stay the same.

In a 2007 survey on household income of public rental housing tenants, mean household income was found to be HK$13,233. So under the formula, if tenants' income changed by HK$13.20 a month last year, the rent would be adjusted this year, a government source familiar with the mechanism said yesterday.

A total of 24,000 households were sampled. The biggest category was four-person families, and their mean household income was HK$16,568. One-person households, the smallest group, had a monthly income of HK$3,883.

The 2009 statistics will be ready by the middle of the year.

The Census and Statistics Department said 52 per cent of companies reported a drop in average wage rates in September last year compared with a year earlier and 41 per cent recorded an increase.

Ho Wai-man, executive director of the Federation of Hong Kong, Kowloon and New Territories Public Housing Estates Resident and Shopowner Organisations, believed rents would rise because public housing tenants earned more last year than in 2007. "One piece of evidence is that the number of tenants under the Rent Assistance Scheme - which offers up to 50 per cent in rent reductions for families with low household income - is lower last year than in 2007-08," Ho said. "This shows that they have a higher income."

Ho said the employment rate for grass-roots workers had increased from 2007. But the rate of salary increases was far behind inflation.

Economists doubt the rent adjustment mechanism will be triggered.

"Their salary level has not changed much," Raymond So Wai-man, an associate professor in Chinese University's finance department, said.

Dr Li Kui-wai, associate professor at City University's economics and finance department, said the jobless rate for lower-income earners improved last year because the government launched various projects. But he said pay had not been increased.
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Old February 27th, 2010, 04:30 PM   #106
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On the street: mixed reviews for budget initiatives
25 February 2010
China Daily - Hong Kong Edition

HONG KONG: On the streets of Hong Kong people are saying the HK$20.4 billion worth of relief measures introduced by the government is generous, but they think the government should consider giving assistance to groups rather than the grass roots.

Delivering his third annual budget speech in the Legislative Council yesterday, Financial Secretary John Tsang acknowledged the burden people face due to emerging inflationary pressure, while they have not yet started to enjoy the benefits of returning prosperity. To address the outcry for short-term relief measures, the administration proposed a series of one-off measures to alleviate burdens on people.

Public housing tenants will enjoy a rent exemption for two months. Mrs Tang, 56, who lives in public housing welcomes the two months of rent free living introduced in the budget. "I would consider buying a new sofa with the extra money," she said.

The HK$20.4 billion relief measures will undoubtedly assist the grass roots to meet pressing needs, however, citizens sandwiched between the grass roots and the middle class do not feel they are the actual beneficiaries.

Ms Hung, a mother of two children, criticized the measures intended to provide greater opportunities for children of needy families receiving Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA). "My husband earns around HK$20,000 a month and thus is not eligible to apply for CSSA. The HK$1,000 allowance and HK$1,300 subsidy for Internet access charges do not do any good for my kids," she noted.

Mr Yeung, a 54-year-old IT manager with an income of HK$80,000 a month, feels the budget is only a rehash and lacks new initiatives. "The budget ignores the middle-income group. We are afraid of losing jobs, but the government has not given thought to implement any unemployment measures," he observed.

Even though some people are dissatisfied with the relief measures, Shirley Hung, assistant professor of Social Work at the Hong Kong Baptist University, believes the government, to a certain extent, has taken people's opinions into account on ways to distribute assistance to the needy.

"For years, NGOs have urged the government to provide subsidies for Internet access charges for the poor families and finally the secretary accepted it," Hung said. However, the government should keep track of the operations of the private service providers. If not, the subsidies could become a target for companies to make profits," she added.

The relief measures have not actually benefited the working poor group - people who are not living in the public housing and do not need to pay salaries tax as well as rates, Hung said. "These people live in decades-old buildings and earn chicken-feed and are not eligible to apply for public housing."

"The main reason for their poverty is lack of suitable jobs for these low-skilled, middle-aged people. As the government is promoting a knowledge-based economy, the administration should enhance training for them to adapt to the ever-changing environment. These value-added measures will ultimately ease the burden of government to provide more allowances," Hung suggested.

"We are hoping the government will legislate a minimum wage as soon as possible and at the same time, study the means to improve living standards of the working poor in the next budget," Hung said.
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Old March 5th, 2010, 11:10 AM   #107
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Home buyers inspect 'sandwich class' flats
3 March 2010
SCMP

Over 30 people went to inspect the 464 remaining units at The Pinnacle in Tseung Kwan O on Wednesday morning, local media reported.

The Pinnacle is a housing estate completed in 1997 under the Housing Society's "sandwich class" housing scheme. The development is located close to the Tseung Kwan O MTR station. The term sandwich class refers to middle-income families.

The Tseung Kwan O units available for sale are located in Block 2 to 4 and their sizes range from 568 to 827 square feet. Sale prices vary from HK$1,300,000 to HK$2,800,000 ? with an average price of about HK$3,000 per square foot.

A number of people visiting the flats on Wednesday told local media prices there were reasonable compared to other flats in the district.

One man said: ?The prices of these flats more acceptable.?

Another man, who has lived in Tseung Kwan O for over 10 years, said he liked the location and quality of the flats. ?I hope I can buy one of these units,? he added.

To be eligible to apply for the flats, families should have a monthly household income of between HK$23,000 and HK$39,000 and assets not exceeding HK$1.2 million. They should also not own residential property in Hong Kong within two years before applying for the flats.

Public housing tenants and single people can also apply for the current batch of sandwich-class flats.

The Housing Society will provide guarantees for buyers to obtain mortgages up to 90 per cent of the property price from banks and recognised financial institutions.

The show flats will be open for visitors from 10am to 6pm during the application period from March 3 to 22.

Many Hong Kong people are anxious to buy flats, but believe property prices in the city are too high. Home prices in Hong Kong rose 30 per cent in 2009, according to recent data from Centaline Property Agency,

Tseung Kwan O is near the New Territories and is a new town popular with middle class people.

For more information, visit the Housing Society at www.hkhs.com
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Old March 9th, 2010, 02:40 PM   #108
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Bankers join call for more cheap flats
More back relaunch of HOS to aid buyers

9 March 2010
South China Morning Post

More business leaders, including property tycoons, have joined a call for the government to resume building Home Ownership Scheme flats and provide more housing to help prospective homeowners.

"Looking at the income of the younger generation in Hong Kong, it's impossible for them to purchase a property," Vincent Cheng Hoi-chuen, chairman of HSBC Bank (China), said yesterday. "If the government does not do something, society may be divided and public discontentment will rise."

Cheng said relaunching the sale of government-subsidised HOS flats could help low-income families onto the property ladder. The government should also increase housing supply for higher-income groups, particularly the middle-class, he said.

Hang Seng Bank chief executive Margaret Leung Ko May-yee agreed there was an insufficient housing supply and the government should make available more property, ranging from HOS to private flats. She said the housing market and the economy would benefit from a long-term plan.

Their comments came a day after a surprise call from New World Development managing director Henry Cheng Kar-shun for more HOS flats amid rising property prices.

Vincent Lo Hong-shui, chairman of building materials and construction firm Shui On Group, also supported the idea. But he said the number of HOS flats should be restricted because too many could cause a property market collapse.

"I think property prices are a bit overpriced now. Of course, it may not be the problem of the developers. There is insufficient land supply as well," the property tycoon said.

The group's subsidiary, Shui On Building Contractors, has built a lot of public housing and is approved by the Housing Authority to tender for certain design-and-build and complex projects.

Executive Council convenor Leung Chun-ying said the government would closely monitor the property market, as well as the public's demand and purchasing power. "As for when and whether to build HOS flats again, I believe the government would closely monitor the situation and make an announcement at a suitable time," Leung said.

A Housing Department spokesman yesterday echoed Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah's remarks two weeks ago. He said it was a prudent and important decision to scrap the HOS scheme and it would not re-enter the market easily.

The government stopped building and selling HOS flats in 2002 amid pressure from private developers. Five years later, the Housing Authority started selling some 16,600 surplus HOS flats in phases. Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, chairman of the authority's subsidised housing committee, said in a television interview that it would discuss this month whether it would put the remaining 4,000 HOS flats on sale this year.

The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong and the Federation of Trade Unions welcomed Cheng's call. "We'll strengthen this opinion," DAB lawmaker Ip Kwok-him said.

The DAB suggested the number of new HOS flats put up for sale be capped at 1,000 a year, while the FTU suggested 5,000 to 6,000.

But Liberal Party chairwoman Miriam Lau Kin-yee said the government should not take too many steps at a time, citing measures announced last month including an increase in irregular land sales and a requirement for developers to build small and medium-size flats on certain lots.
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Old March 16th, 2010, 03:28 PM   #109
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Property tycoon in surprise call for return of HOS
8 March 2010
South China Morning Post

Hong Kong property tycoon Henry Cheng Kar-shun has called for the relaunch of a government-subsidised flat sale scheme that he and fellow private developers had once pressed hard to have abolished.

Cheng, a member of China's top political advisory body, now says the resumption of the home ownership scheme (HOS) could help ease public discontent in Hong Kong amid a heated property market.

The subsidised housing scheme, under which lower-priced flats are built for sale to the less well-off, was scrapped in 2002 by the government amid pressure from private developers, who criticised the scheme as an intervention in the free market.

Cheng's remark yesterday also contrasted sharply with the position of the Hong Kong government.

Just last month, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah said the government "would not lightly return to the market", when asked if he would consider relaunching HOS.

Cheng, managing director of New World Development, said: "From the perspective of a developer, certainly I would not agree [with relaunching HOS]."

"But from the perspective of the whole society, I think the government should resume building HOS flats. These flats take care of the needs of middle-income families who may not afford to own their own homes.

"While low-income families can rent public housing, middle-income families should also be taken care of. This group of people now have big discontent with the society."

Cheng, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Standing Committee, said: "Why are there so many protests? Why are so many people unhappy with the government? It is because many people cannot enjoy a good living environment and they find many hardships in making a living."

Cheng was speaking on the sidelines of the plenary session of the consultative conference in Beijing.

Cheng appreciated the possible adverse impact of his proposal on the property market in Hong Kong but said this could be minimised by imposing tighter regulations on the resale of HOS units.

At present, HOS flat owners are subject to a set of restrictions when they want to resell their units.

In general, they can resell the units to public estate tenants after the first three years, with no need to pay premium to the government.

Cheng also dismissed as "just a show" a government proposal to cool the property market by means of a moderate increase of stamp duty on transactions of luxury properties, hinting it would have no effect.

Meanwhile in Hong Kong, some speakers at the RTHK City Forum yesterday remained cautious about relaunching HOS.

Wong Leung-sing, an associate director of research at Centaline Property Agency, said: "The heated market is partly due to the low bank rate {hellip} People look for investment opportunities but do not want to try again in the financial markets {hellip} many investors turn to buying flats. Building more HOS flats may not be addressing the right question."
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Old March 18th, 2010, 05:43 AM   #110
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HOS flats tipped for quick sale
The Standard
Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Housing Authority will maintain the income threshold and allocation system for 4,000 Home Ownership Scheme flats.

The current threshold for a family of two or more is HK$23,000 per month, with assets limited to HK$660,000.

"HOS homes do not interest the entire property market," said Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, chairman of the authority's subsidized housing committee and an Executive Council member. "They target low earners."

Eighty percent of the flats - mainly in Tin Shui Wai and Yau Tong - will go to green form applicants, who mostly live in public rental housing.

"In principle, we will stick to past practices, since HOS homes were designed for green form applicants," Cheung said.

He expects more public rental flats to be available for low-income earners on the waiting list. But he warned the public not to expect many HOS homes on the market, since current owners will have to pay land premiums before selling.

Henderson Land (0012) chairman Lee Shau- kee said selling HOS flats in one go may help solve the current shortage of homes.

"Completed properties seldom remain unsold after one or two years," Lee said.

"Sold continuously, all units will be gone within a year or less."

The Housing Society began accepting applications for the remaining 374 sandwich-class homes yesterday.

Many hopefuls applied to view The Cascades in Ho Man Tin, which will admit 1,000 viewers daily between March 23 and April 7.

The 32 two-bedroom flats roughly measure 680 square feet, and will be sold at an average of HK$3,700 per square foot.
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Old April 13th, 2010, 05:50 PM   #111
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Land supply, HOS flats to be boosted
The Standard
Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Official measures to increase the supply of both land and homes are in the offing.

While discussion with the Housing Authority over measures to revitalize the secondary Home Ownership Scheme market will not start until May, the public body will soon assume the role of mortgage guarantor for potential homeowners, a source told Sing Tao Daily, sister publication of The Standard. After this, banks are likely to feel safe to render loans to HOS homebuyers, who in turn will settle land premium through monthly installments, the source said.

All 4,000 remaining HOS flats - mainly in Tin Shui Wai and Yau Tong - may be put on the market at one time by the Housing Authority as early as June, said housing chief Eva Cheng Yu-wah.

In the past, up to 80 percent of such flats went to those who were renting public housing and 20 percent who were not. Cheng has said the ratio could be altered if needed.

HOS homes can only be bought by individuals with less than HK$395,000 in assets. This benchmark may be raised in May.

Meanwhile, the government included six prime urban sites in the new application list of sites for sale, effective from February, which will be offloaded within two years if developers have not triggered them by then, Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet- ngor said earlier. The authorities have sped up the process and will sell these sites "very soon," a source told Sing Tao Daily.

These sites - measuring a total of 7.98 hectares - are expected to provide 2,200 homes. They may help stabilize supply and deter spillover of price surges from luxury to mass-market properties, Cheng said.

Five of these sites - one each at The Peak, Mid-Levels, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon Tong and Stubbs Road - are for residential use. The remaining site has a mixed-use condition.
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Old May 20th, 2010, 08:53 PM   #112
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Government urged to go green on quarry
5 May 2010
South China Morning Post



A quarry that leaves a huge scar across the Kowloon hills should be turned into a green space for people to enjoy instead of being used for more high-rise public housing, district councillors told planning officials yesterday.

Kwun Tong councillors also said the development of the Anderson Road Quarry, due to close in 2016, should be co-ordinated with that of the former airport site at Kai Tak, which it overlooks.

The Planning Department told the council the quarry would yield a 40-hectare area, equivalent to the size of the West Kowloon Cultural District, for development.

Chief town planner Fiona Lung Siu-yuk said a consultant next month would start an 18-month study into possible uses for the site, including public and private housing and other types of development.

The idea immediately drew councillors' objections because the area was already congested with public housing blocks.

"There are already many high-rise public rental apartments in this part of the Kowloon Mid-Levels. I oppose any more such flats being added there because you would have to build many roads to absorb the population," Cheung Shun-wah said.

He said the site could be used for low-density private housing.

Hung Kam-in said the government should protect the ridgeline in this part of Kowloon from being broken by high-rises.

"I don't see any solution to solving the existing traffic problems," he added. "Any more apartment blocks will be a disaster for Kwun Tong."

Other councillors said the site on the steep lower slopes of the 419-metre Tai Sheung Tok - one of the nine "dragons" that gave Kowloon its name - could be used for much-needed leisure and sports facilities.

"You promised the place would become a green belt," Leung Fu-wing said. "It's so ugly now, it's barren. A green face would be a good thing for residents."

Council chairman Chan Chung-bun said the government should co-ordinate the planning of the site with that of Kai Tak, which would provide public and private housing and community facilities.

At present, there are at least eight public housing estates around the quarry. Residents rely on buses and minibuses to get to the city centre or the nearest MTR stations in Choi Hung and Kwun Tong.

The development will also add to a large-scale public housing project on the edge of the quarry, which is under construction and will accommodate 48,300 people. The site formation and infrastructure have already cost HK$2.06 billion.

The quarry is estimated to have supplied 50 million tonnes of rocks for the construction industry.
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Old May 24th, 2010, 06:41 PM   #113
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Hung Hom by 鄧麗欣之戀 from skyscrapers.cn :

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Old June 27th, 2010, 05:44 PM   #114
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Strong response expected for final HOS flats
25 June 2010
South China Morning Post

Analysts are optimistic about the sale of over 3,200 Home Ownership Scheme flats which starts today, thanks to improved market sentiment and the prospect that the subsidised properties will soon run out.

"I believe it will receive an ideal market response because {hellip} we are seeing more market activity these days, particularly for small and medium-priced flats," Patrick Chow Moon-kit, head of research at Ricacorp Properties, said.

"The prices, which are about 70 per cent of market value, are set based on transactions between February and April. Flat prices are about 2 to 3 per cent higher now, so HOS flats are even more attractive," Chow said, adding that there would be three to four times more applicants than the number of available flats.

The Housing Authority will accept applications from today for 3,219 HOS flats at 33 estates. These are the last batch of HOS flats the government holds, excluding 825 units held back at Tin Chung Court, Tin Shui Wai due to a row over management fees with the owners' committee.

Both Chow and Midland Realty chief analyst Buggle Lau Ka-fai believed there would be many applicants for the apartments because there was no sign the government would rebuild HOS flats since it halted the practice in 2003.

"When prospective buyers realise that this is the last batch, they will want to apply and the sale will draw a lot of attention," Lau said.

Assistant Director of Housing Chan Nap-ming said the government was optimistic about the sale and believed there were enough flats for prospective buyers to choose from.

The 3,219 flats have a saleable area of between 205 square feet and 666 square feet. Over 1,100 units are at Yau Chui Court in Yau Tong, while 639 are located at Kam Fung Court in Ma On Shan.

The selling prices range from HK$302,400, at Lung Hin Court in Tai O, Lantau Island to HK$3.28 million, in Tung Tao Court, Shau Kei Wan.

The income limit for applicants has been raised from HK$23,000 to HK$27,000 for a two-person household and they cannot have assets of more than HK$530,000. The authority estimated that at least 106,400 households were eligible to apply. Applications will be open from today until July 8. On-site show flats are open for visits in Yau Chui Court and Kam Fung Court, while several flats in Tsz Oi Court will also be open for viewing with a guide.
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Old July 8th, 2010, 04:05 PM   #115
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Applications for surplus HOS Flats Phase 6 close tomorrow
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Government Press Release

The following is issued on behalf of the Housing Authority:

Applications for the purchase of surplus Home Ownership Scheme (HOS) flats Phase 6 will close tomorrow (July 8).

A spokesman for the Housing Authority (HA) today (July 7) reminded eligible applicants that a range of flats of different sizes, layout designs and prices at various locations were available and eligible people who want to purchase an HOS flat can make use of this opportunity.

The HA is offering some 3,200-plus flats for sale, comprising 1,110 unsold flats in Yau Chui Court Stage II in Yau Tong and over 2,000 scattered flats located in 32 courts in Hong Kong, Kowloon and the New Territories.

Sales information and application forms can be obtained at the Housing Authority Customer Service Centre (HACSC) in Lok Fu, public rental housing estates offices, Sham Shui Po Housing Information Centre and Public Enquiry Service Centres of the Home Affairs Department. Sales information can also be viewed and application forms downloaded from the HA/Housing Department website (www.housingauthority.gov.hk).

Eligible applicants must submit their application forms and necessary documents to the respective estate offices or the HACSC by or before tomorrow. For applications sent by post, the date of the postal chop on the envelope will be regarded as the date of submission.

Ballots will be drawn before the end of this month to determine the flat selection sequence of applicants while flat selection will begin in August.
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Old July 8th, 2010, 05:55 PM   #116
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Every available site for future development in Hong Kong is being used for public housing tower instead of being put to other uses. I hope the Anderson Road Quarry is turned into a green space (green spaces are rare in Hong Kong). It's either that, or a combination of public housing and greenspaces.
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Old July 21st, 2010, 04:43 PM   #117
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Income-based rent system slammed as faulty
The Standard
Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The government's income-based rent- adjustment mechanism for public housing is seriously flawed, say lawmakers.

That is because it has driven up rents while forcing the authorities to offer a two-month waiver as compensation.

The system failed to consider inflation which, if included, would have frozen public housing rents, they said.

The rent adjustment is based on the average income of public housing households surveyed by the Census and Statistics Department from 2007 to 2009.

The 4.68-percent hike in rents, to take effect in September, was discussed in a Legislative Council housing panel meeting yesterday.

Lawmaker Leung Yiu-chung said the calculation of tenants' capacity to pay should depend not only on income but also the impact of inflation - which has held steady at 3.95 percent for the past two years.

"Tenants' expenditure has surged, and has almost counterbalanced the rise in household salaries," he said.

But Secretary for Housing and Transport Eva Cheng Yu-wah said household expenditure varies between families and it would "not be scientific and fair to make an estimation on that basis."

Before the meeting started, about 50 public housing tenants protested against the rent rise outside Legco.

A 60-year-old, who lives in Kwai Chung Estate with her husband and son for a monthly rent of HK$2,100, said: "The increase in income does not include poor people like us."

The rent rise excludes low-income tenants on social welfare, who make up one-fourth of the 680,000 tenants.

The Civic Party's Alan Leong Kah- kit urged the Housing Authority to comprehensively review the mechanism.

If it were without flaw, the rent waiver would not have been required, the legislator noted.
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Old August 20th, 2010, 05:43 AM   #118
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Leung confronts price fears with HOS call
The Standard
Friday, August 20, 2010

Executive Council convener Leung Chun-ying believes the government should seriously consider reviving the Home Ownership Scheme, and said it will not drag down property prices.

The scheme is well developed and the government has gained plenty of experience putting it into action over nearly 26 years, Leung said.

Apart from the HOS, he would welcome any other measures to stabilize the property market.

However, he warned that it usually takes several years for any new measures to take effect.

"It is very difficult in any market to buck the trend of property prices," Leung said.

"We all know that the supply of housing units takes a long time.

"Land formation, land sales, the application process and also the construction process itself may take several years."

He also warned the government to be careful in formulating housing policies in order to avoid boosting already sky-high property prices.

However, a drastic fall in property prices is not a good thing either.

"If the government is thinking of cooling down the property market by increasing land supply, then it needs to bear in mind the consequences," Leung said. "Not everyone wants to see a decrease in land prices."

Consultation on curbing soaring property prices is currently under way and ends in the middle of next month.

The result will be announced in the policy address of Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen in October.
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Old September 14th, 2010, 06:27 PM   #119
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Agency launches HOS premium scheme
The Standard
Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Hong Kong Mortgage Corp will guarantee loans of up to HK$3 million for premium payments by Home Ownership Scheme flat-owners in a bid to revitalize the secondary home market for this sector.

Under the long-awaited Premium Loan Guarantee Scheme, the government agency will provide a mortgagee bank guarantee on 60 percent of loan-to-value ratio of a HOS apartment that is on lease, and 70 percent of LTV of an owner-occupied flat.

Inclusive of the premium loan, the same mortgage bank can receive up to 90 percent of property value, known as the covered amount.

Owners will have to pay their mortgage banks an annual guarantee fee, ranging from 1.8 percent of the covered amount for a three-year premium loan to 3.8 percent for a 30-year one.

Corporation executive director Peter Pang Sing-tong said owners will be able to repay the premium loans to banks in installments: "This scheme offers an additional means of financing to HOS owners who like some flexibility in paying premiums to the Housing Authority."

The authority said that this should benefit HOS owners who want to settle premium payments before selling their flats. It pointed out that some homeowners who have moved to private apartments can now rent out their vacant HOS homes and use the rentals to repay premiums.

Of the 320,000 HOS flats in Hong Kong, the premium for around 65,000 homes has been settled.

Dah Sing Bank executive director John Lam Cheung-wah said the lender is interested in the scheme. While Lam expects it to help revitalize the market, he said it is premature to forecast market demand or competition.
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Old October 14th, 2010, 07:53 PM   #120
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More public housing for struggling singles urged
4 October 2010
South China Morning Post

The ramshackle bed in the 36-square-foot room of restaurant cleaner Ng Yuk-ching is strewn with clothes and other items.

The room in a 40-year-old building in Ki Lung Street, Sham Shui Po, is one of five small cubicles sharing a communal kitchen and toilet. The bunk bed and a small table are the only furniture Ng has.

"It's too small to put in other things," she said.

Poor sanitary conditions and the presence of drug users in the building are another source of nuisance.

"The squeaking of mice disrupts my sleep. Stairs are strewn with used needles at night. It's scary."

Ng is one of the growing number of single applicants for public housing estates whose interminable wait for a subsidised flat has made life miserable. "I have been waiting for seven years. I am beginning to lose hope," she says.

The plight of single public housing applicants is revealed in a survey conducted by the Society for Community Organisation. Carried out between March and September, the survey interviewed 107 people living in cage homes, partitioned rooms and roof shacks.

More than 70 per cent said they were dissatisfied with their living conditions.

Fifty-one per cent have applied for public housing. The average waiting time is 30 months. The longest waiting time is eight years. More than 90 per cent of those who are not applicants said they did not apply due to the long waiting time.

Single applicants have been allowed to apply for public housing since 1985. Figures for this year from the Housing Authority show that 52,000, or 40 per cent, of 130,000 public housing applicants are non-elderly single people, compared to 37,500 in 2006.

A scoring system specifically for non-elderly single applicants was adopted in 2005. Age and whether the applicant is living with family in a public housing flat are among scoring factors. Sze Lai-shan, community organiser for the society, said the system discriminated against young single people.

"There is a specific queue for those aged 60 or above. For those single people aged below 60, the older you are, the more points you get. Older applicants can also jump queues, extending the wait of the young ones. The 2,000 quota limit for single applicants each year means some single people can wait for as long as 10 years before [getting] a flat."

Gary, 26, has been on the waiting list since 2005.

He moved out of his family home six years ago to avoid his parents who were constantly arguing. The night-time delivery worker earns HK$6,000 a month and pays HK$1,500 for a 100 sq ft flat in Sham Shui Po. "I couldn't find a girlfriend because of my poor living conditions," he said.

Sze said the lack of housing support for poor single people had forced many to live in tragic conditions. "The government's promise that applicants do not have to wait for more than three years for a flat is empty," Sze said.

"The government says 77,000 new flats will be built in the coming five years. This target is far short of the huge demand. They should release more land from the land bank to build public housing blocks and push the target to 35,000 new flats every year."

Sze said the government should give subsidies to those who had waited for more than three years so that they could rent housing whose quality was similar to that of a subsidised home.

"Singletons are forced to live in worse housing because of frequent rent rises.

"The 2,000 yearly quota should be scrapped as everybody, whether they are old or married, should be treated the same. Based on the proportion of single applicants, there should be 10,000 flats set aside for them each year, instead of 2,000."

The HK$7,400 salary ceiling for single applicants should also be raised, Sze said.

Ng said she had to leave jobs frequently to make sure her salary did not exceed the ceiling. "The current cleaning job pays HK$7,000 per month.

"I have been at it for three months. I had to leave my previous job because my former boss wanted to raise my salary."
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