Rental subsidy for social housing waiting list households begins September

Thursday, August 14, 2008
Issue 435, Page 1 & 3
Word count: 605
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Households on the social housing waiting list can apply for a monthly subsidy of 750 patacas or 1,100 patacas from next month, issued by the Housing Bureau (IH) for a 12-month period.

The 6,500 households whose monthly gross income does not exceed the set amounts and who are living in Macau will be eligible to apply for the subsidy between September 1 and November 30.

According to chief of the public housing affairs department, Andrew Cheang Sek Lam yesterday, the total income for a household of one member cannot exceed 4,480 patacas, with two members rising to 5,770 patacas.

Also, the income restriction for a household of five, six and seven or above is set at 9,430 patacas, 10,250 patacas and 11,070 patacas, respectively.

Mr Cheang said the income ceilings have been relaxed for the subsidy scheme according to the rapid social development and changes of the waiting households’ financial status.

However, he added that applying for the temporary subsidy will not affect the households’ current places on the waiting list or lead to an elimination from the list due to their increase in income.

After applications are approved, households made up of one to two people will receive a monthly subsidy of 750 patacas, while three or more members will be given 1,100 patacas.

Mr Cheang said the subsidy amounts were based on the discrepancy between rental prices in the private real estate market and in the social housing sector.

Deputy director of the IH, Tam Kuong Man, said the government’s total expenditure for the program was estimated at 85 million patacas if all the 6,500 households on the waiting list were qualified to receive the subsidy.

Mr Tam said the scheme was launched as a result of rising living costs, in particular of rents due to inflation, which created a “big hardship” for families who were still waiting to be allocated a social housing unit.

Application results will be mailed to applicants within 30 days of submission, and the first lot of subsidies will be transferred to their designated bank accounts at the end of the following month.

Afterwards subsidies will be deposited to the same bank accounts at the end of every month for a period of one year.

Mr Cheang said the amount of the subsidy can be adjusted throughout the year according to changes in the number of family members, which would require appropriate proof.

In addition, he said the Housing Bureau could withdraw the subsidy from a household at any time if they give up the place or were being eliminated from the waiting list, had lived in Macau for less than eight months, or made a false application.

Households who submitted false details would not only have to return all the subsidy received previously, but would also be liable for criminal charges as well as be forbidden from participating in any IH housing program for a period of two years.

Mr Cheang also said that a household cannot at the same time receive the IH subsidy as well as another subsidy of the same kind from other government bodies such as the Social Welfare Bureau.

According to lawmaker Ng Kuok Cheong, the IH housing subsidy was already lagging behind the ever growing rents in the private market before it is to be introduced next month.

He said locals could benefit temporarily, but added that the scheme would not be effective if the government wanted to relieve their living hardship over a long-term period.

Application forms can be obtained at the IH building in Ilha Verde or downloaded from http://www.ihm.gov.mo.
For more information, call the Housing Bureau on 28594875.

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