Contractors going at ‘full speed’ to deliver 29,000 light public flats: Hong Kong housing chief

Hong Kong’s housing minister has said contractors building 29,000 light public flats are going at “full speed” to complete them, expressing confidence authorities will reach a wider target of 30,000 by the 2026-27 financial year.

Secretary for Housing Winnie Ho Wing-yin said on Saturday that the projects were located in areas such as Yuen Long, Tuen Mun and Kai Tak, and represented 96 per cent of the government’s wider target.

“I am confident we can complete all 30,000 flats by 2026-27,” she told a radio programme. “Three contracts have been operating at full speed, with some of the contractors involved based in Hong Kong or from mainland China.”

Another 800 light housing flats in Ma On Shan were also in the works, she added.

Authorities earlier pledged to build 30,000 temporary homes for residents living in subdivided flats and who had been waiting at least three years to get a public rental flat.

The average waiting time among general applicants for a public rental flat stood at 5.8 years, according to data for the last quarter of 2023.

Ho said on Saturday that another 2,147 public rental flats at Tsing Yi’s Cheung Ching Estate and Tuen Mun’s Yip Wong Estate had been expedited to ensure their completion in the first quarter this year.

The flats were being allocated to residents in the queue for public housing, she added.

But Ho said she could not guarantee the average waiting time for flats would go down straight away under the move, despite some of the immediate results seen under the advance allocation scheme.

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Housing chief Winnie Ho says a clampdown on public housing abusers has lead to 450 flats being recovered. Photo: Jonathan Wong

Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu announced the scheme – which offers flats at selected public housing estates to families on the waiting list before infrastructure and transport facilities are completed – in his 2022 policy address.

“It would not be surprising if the [average wait time] fluctuates every year because new public housing does not get brought out every quarter,” Ho said.

Last year, the Housing Authority ramped up efforts to tackle abuse of public flats, such as checking whether tenants had undeclared residential properties.

Housing officials last August sent out forms to more than 88,000 households and asked tenants to declare if they lived in the flats and had no other property in Hong Kong.

The housing minister said on Saturday that the authority had already recovered 450 flats during the operation, with eviction notices sent to another 100 tenants.

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