Waiting for an affordable home

‘Owning a home is a keystone to wealth’, goes the old saying. But many Hongkongers cannot afford to own property, as our series on the housing crisis shows.

How do we distinguish between private and public housing?

PRIVATE homes are constructed by developers such as Cheung Kong Property Holdings and Sun Hung Kai Properties. They aim to make a profit from selling flats. Public housing is built by the government to provide homes to those who cannot afford one in the private sector. There are two types of public housing – flats for rent and units which are sold at a discount.

What is the problem with private housing in Hong Kong?

PRICES for private homes have gone through the roof and many people in Hong Kong do not have the money to buy them. A survey shows that housing in Hong Kong is the most unaffordable in the world.

It takes 19 years for a Hong Kong person on a median income (HK$15,500 a month in 2015) to purchase a flat. The world average is 4.2 years. Many people who cannot afford private housing resort to applying for public housing or renting a flat.

Why can’t the government provide more public housing?

THE acute shortage of land is the main reason. At the end of June, 153,000 people were on the waiting list for public rental housing in Hong Kong, but only 14,264 public rental flats were produced. The average waiting time is around four years because supply is unable to keep up with demand. The task facing the government is how to tackle runaway prices and find land for new housing.