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Simple public housing|Simplify the big problem of building and design


"Simple public housing" is essentially "transitional housing" and "temporary housing", but the words "transitional" and "temporary" are replaced by "simple", and simple design and modular construction method are adopted in order to quickly build public housing

"Simple public housing" is essentially "transitional housing" and "temporary housing", but the words "transitional" and "temporary" are replaced by "simple", and simple design and modular construction method are adopted to quickly build public housing Units, to temporarily improve the dire situation of grassroots housing.

However, the housing problem that has plagued Hong Kong for many years may be difficult to "simplify".

Since the lease of "Nanchang 220" is only two years at most, it has already "opened the sign" that it cannot guarantee to live upstairs, and can only focus on dealing with the plight of the subdivided flat households being isolated from society, helping them access social resources and support, even in the future Returning to the subdivided housing can still lead a better life independently.

(Photo by Zhang Haowei)

Only the immediate solution,

not the long-term solution

"Simple public housing" first manufactures various components in the factory, including finishes, fixtures and building facilities, and then directly transports them to the construction site for assembly and assembly into buildings.

The process can standardize units, reduce on-site construction procedures, and speed up housing construction.

However, "simple public housing" is after all a "transitional housing project" and is of a "temporary" nature.

According to the Housing Bureau, the policy idea is to give priority to housing households who have been waiting for traditional public housing for three years or more and households living in subdivided housing units, so that they can enjoy a "simple but appropriate residence" for at least 5 years before moving into traditional public housing. comfort zone".

In addition, the bureau also used "increase in quantity, speed, efficiency, and quality" as its selling point, and threatened that "simple public housing" could relieve the pressure on public housing supply. The new public housing waiting index "comprehensive waiting time for public housing" with a "capped" time of 5.6 years aims to reduce the waiting time to 4.5 years by 2026/27.

However, there are many transitional housing projects promoted by the government or non-profit organizations (NGOs) in Hong Kong, but the waiting time for public housing has not been significantly shortened.

In November 2022, the Evaluation Committee of the Housing Affairs Committee of the Legislative Council approved 41 transitional housing projects of NGOs, providing a total of about 18,200 units with a total funding of about 9.88 billion yuan.

Although the project will help improve the living environment and rental expenses of public housing applicants, it will not help to reduce the waiting time. It is 5.6 years, which is only a slight decrease of 0.4 years compared with 2021.

In this project, the government adopts the "assembly and synthesis" construction method, which means that various components, including finishes, fixtures and building facilities, are first manufactured in the factory, and then directly transported to the construction site, and then assembled into buildings, so that the units are standardized, Reduce on-site construction procedures, speed up housing construction, and strive for "fast, beautiful and upright".

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were many projects in the past, but the public response was lukewarm

In addition to "fixing the symptoms but not the root cause", there are still many problems in the transitional housing projects in the past, including short rental period, limited space, remote location, etc., and some even "transition after transition", for some grassroots Not very attractive.

The first transitional housing "Nanchang 220" in Hong Kong using prefabricated construction technology was occupied from August 2020 to the end of last year. As a result, less than 30% of the public housing went upstairs, and nearly 13% could not be connected to other social housing. Return to the private property market, and even return to subdivided housing.

The project was built and coordinated by the government, and planned by the Association of Social Service. Its business director, Huang Jianwei, said frankly in an interview with "Hong Kong 01" after "Nanchang 220" ended its operation, "The project is to let people waiting for public housing wait for the 5 There is no need to live in subdivided housing for 2 years during the year.” Because the lease of “Nanchang 220” is only two years at most, that is, it has already “opened the door” and stated that it cannot guarantee to live in public housing, and can only focus on dealing with the social isolation of subdivided housing households help them get in touch with social resources and support, so that even if they return to subdivided housing in the future, they can still live a better life independently.

A representative of Tung Wah Group of Hospitals, a co-organizer of "Nanchang 220", revealed that only about 20 households were allocated public housing when the land lease period expired, and the remaining 60 households had to deal with their own affairs after the lease expired.

At the beginning of 2018, when the Buildings Department approved project plans, the waiting time for general public housing applicants was 5.1 years, but by the middle of this year it had increased to 5.8 years.

In other words, unless the speed of public housing construction can catch up with the lease period of transitional housing, or the two can cooperate, can tenants be guaranteed to successfully transition to public housing.

Another transitional housing project with a "frustrating" fate is the "Tongxin Village" in Yuen Long, which was jointly built by the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui Welfare Association, Sun Hung Kai Properties and the government. Nearly half of it has a vacancy rate.

The project was occupied in May last year. Of the 1,800 units, only 700 households are eligible for public housing waiting, and another 400 households are people in need recognized by the operating agency.

Legislative Council Member Tian Beichen of the New Territories Northwest believes that "Tongxin Village" is already a "bamboo shoot", it is close to Yuen Long West Rail Station and large shopping malls, but the occupancy rate is still low in the past year, and is worried about the more remote "simple public housing" ’ will be repeated.

The government has announced 8 sites for "simple public housing", only 3 are located in the urban area, and the rest are located in Siu Lam Lok Lok, Tuen Mun Area 3A, Tuen Mun Area 54, Yau Pok Road in Yuen Long and Liantang Mei in Sheung Shui. They all lack complete community facilities, and they do not use housing construction as a long-term planning purpose, which may cause "separation of occupation and residence".

Tian Beichen is worried that the public's response to living in the "simple public housing" in the suburbs may not be enthusiastic, which may cause vacancy and fail to fully play the role of "transition".

According to the "Hong Kong Property Report 2022" released by the Rating and Valuation Department in May last year, as of the end of 2021, the overall vacancy of private housing in Hong Kong was 50,164 units, and the vacancy rate was about 4.1%, a year-on-year decrease of 0.2 percentage points.

The problem is that the temporary

port has become a dirty city

The key reason why transitional housing cannot solve the housing problem lies in its "temporary" nature. It is thought that grassroots families waiting to move into public housing can have a shelter temporarily, and they do not want to take the initiative to take responsibility for their housing, so as not to affect the volatility of the property market.

Deng Yongcheng, a well-known geographer in Hong Kong, once co-authored the article "The Purpose of "Transition" Measures Are Mysterious Don't Simplify Cities into Dormitories" with Ye Junsong, Liang Hanzhu and Feng Guojian, criticizing the SAR government from time to time in recent years. Emerging housing policy terms such as "transitional housing" continue to compress or even secretly replace the concept of "spatial justice".

The article mentioned a story that took place in Paris, France in the 19th century, how the bourgeoisie pushed suburban workers to become owners of cars.

At that time, workers needed the opportunity to work in the city, and factories needed their labor force; however, although the bourgeoisie welcomed workers into the city, they could only be placed in designated places due to the space pressure of urban expansion, and they were encouraged to work hard. Saving money to buy a home; as a result, what workers get is a feeling of living in a city, rather than a real right to participate in urban life—their living space is smaller, the living conditions are poorer, the space is less used, the community facilities are less convenient, and they live in groups. The more alienated, the "house" is simplified into a "dormitory", and the city becomes "indecent".

Deng Yongcheng and others pointed out that the ideology reflected behind this is to divide people into two categories: "with buildings" and "without buildings", and the former are considered "people of this city". The government can use this to manage urban life to ensure Social harmony and stability.

It is precisely because of this that the SAR government is reluctant to build public housing on a large scale, so it has always tried to relieve the pressure through "temporary housing".

As early as 1946, Hong Kong had its first temporary housing area to accommodate residents affected by demolition, fire or other natural disasters.

Afterwards, the tha area was built from the original wooden boards, zinc and iron, and evolved into asbestos tile roofs. In the late 1990s, it evolved into interim housing with a height of 4 to 29 floors.

During the peak period, there were 6 interim housing projects built in Hong Kong, all of which were located in the New Territories. Later, due to the low utilization rate, most of them have been demolished.

Even today, when the society is getting more and more advanced and the economy is getting more and more developed, it is becoming more and more difficult for citizens to have a place to live, and the government is still "changing the soup without changing the medicine" to launch transitional housing.

After World War II, a large number of mainlanders immigrated to Hong Kong. The population of Hong Kong surged from more than 600,000 in 1945 to about 2.3 million in just five years. Some mainland refugees built wooden huts in Shek Kip Mei to form temporary housing.

The housing policy is seriously derailed, and the

fault in the dominance of home buyers

We can learn from the past. The Housing Bureau emphasizes that "simple public housing" is "learning from the experience of operating transitional housing" and aims to solve the urgent housing needs of some people in the short term.

So, in the long run, how to solve the problem of housing shortage?

Chief Executive Lee Ka-chao mentioned in his 2022 Policy Address that about 360,000 public housing units will be provided in the next ten years. About one-third of the units were completed, of which 82,600 were public housing (including GSH) units and the other 45,100 were HOS units.

Therefore, the authorities will expedite the launch of 30,000 "simple public housing" units within five years, which is believed to be able to temporarily deal with the "top-heavy" problem.

However, as of the end of September 2022, there are still 135,500 general public housing applications and 99,100 non-elderly one-person applications in Hong Kong. It can be seen that the shortage is not small, and as property prices continue to rise and the population continues to increase, demand will only increase. No subtraction.

According to the Government's previous "Long-Term Housing Strategy" published in 1998, it was mainly aimed at housing construction, home ownership and waiting for public housing, and concentrated resources to provide public housing for low-income families. Reduce intervention in the market.

However, after the Asian financial turmoil, Hong Kong's economy and property market began to recover, and the property market continued to heat up. The supply and demand of public and private housing were seriously unbalanced, and property prices and rents have risen to a level beyond the affordability of ordinary citizens.

Therefore, the new government established the Long-term Housing Strategy Steering Committee in 2012, and published the "Long-term Housing Strategy" in 2014. It claims to adopt the principles of "supply-led" and "flexible" and updates the long-term housing demand projections every year.

However, in the past ten years, the government has neither increased the supply of public housing in response to demand, nor has it actively taken measures to control the property market that only rises but not falls. As a result, the housing problem is still serious. The grassroots people can only go upstairs, and the middle-class citizens can only look forward to the building and sigh .

In fact, after the reunification, public housing accounts for less than half of all housing. According to statistics from the Census and Statistics Department, there will be 1.277 million public rental housing units and subsidized sale units in 2021, 1.682 million private permanent housing units, and 1.682 million public housing units. The ratio of housing to private housing is 43:57.

Interestingly, as of late 2020, the home ownership ratio in Hong Kong is only 51.2%.

That is to say, some people live without a house, and some people live without a house.

According to the data of the "Hong Kong Property Report 2022" released by the Rating and Valuation Department in May last year, as of the end of 2021, the overall vacancy of private housing in Hong Kong is 50,164 units-these vacant units alone have exceeded the number of "simple public housing" Thirty thousand units.

This can't help but make people wonder, besides continuously selling land and building buildings, can't the government be more active in reviewing the allocation of land for public and private housing?

The deep-seated housing problems in Hong Kong involve complex speculation, property tax loopholes, and interest competition, etc. It is a big question mark how much "simple public housing" can help in just five years but at sky-high prices.

Source: hk1

All news articles on 2023-02-06

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