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Activists pan housing policy

Leaders don't like plan to provide more houses but also doubt whether it will last

Activists pan housing policy
High-rise housing in Hong Kong reporter, Hong Kong
Hong Kong

October 13, 2011

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Social activists have expressed doubts about a unified housing policy after outgoing chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen proposed several plans to stem the crisis during his final policy speech yesterday. Law Pui-san of the diocese’s commission for labor affairs said Hong Kong does not have party politics and that there was no vision behind a chief executive’s policy decisions. She further doubted the continuity of Tsang’s policies after his term ends in mid-2012. The government does not offer solutions to grassroots housing problems but speaks of some “illusory, far-fetched” measures, which are far from meeting the demand,” she said. While admitting mistakes were made during his seven-year tenure, Tsang has promised to build 75,000 public housing units, revive a subsidized homeowners’ scheme for first-time buyers and raise their household monthly income threshold to HK$30,000 (US$3,856). He further pledged that the government would guarantee enough land supply to build an additional 20,000 private units, 15,000 public units and 5,000 units for the homeowners’ scheme. Ho Hei-wah, director of the Society for Community Organization, said he was disappointed that while “homes unsuitable for living” have increased nearly 30 percent in the past two years, Tsang mentioned nothing concrete to solve the problem. In past years the government has built 15,000 units for the 100,000 people currently on waiting lists. The list has increased to 160,000 people but supply remains the same, he said. Ho, who joined other grassroots activists in a protest in front of government headquarters over Tsang’s speech, said the incumbent administration has left behind a huge housing burden that will only get worse. He added that the current administration has failed to offer solutions to deep-seated social conflicts that they say have been caused by the large gap between rich and poor in the territory. Related reports: Plan to raze flats ‘not workable yet’ HK minimum wage too low, says Church

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