A quick look at the social housing scheme

Friday, October 16, 2009
Issue 845, Page 2
Word count: 918
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

There are almost two and a half months left till the latest round of social housing applications will come to an end. For those who are planning to grab the chance but are keen to learn more before handing in an application, the Macau Daily Times tries to help by finding out some facts that should be worth noting.

Macau society had long been calling for the reopening of social housing applications since it was suspended in March 2005, and certainly for the acceleration of public housing construction at the same time.

Social housing is a kind of public housing which is rented to households or individuals with weak financial condition or special difficulties.

After four and a half years of wait, the Housing Bureau (IH) announced that the applications would recommence on September 28 until December 28 this year.

According to the bureau, so far 1,194 application forms have been received as of 5pm yesterday.

During the three months of application period, the IH will not check the eligibility of the applicants but will receive all applications even when some of them do not meet the requirements.

The bureau explained that some applications may involve “special cases” such as one of the family members being physically disabled. In such circumstance the bureau may still accept the application despite it fails to meet certain requirements.

It will only be after December 28 the bureau will start to formally examine all applications and only accept those that meet the requirements for further process.

A temporary list of qualified applicants will be drafted by this time which also consists of an initial score scored by each applicant based on a unified scoring scheme.

Since it is common that some supporting documents will be missing in applications, the IH will give a certain period of time for the initially qualified applicants to deliver a full set of required documents or proofs back to the bureau.

After this step a confirmed applicant list and each applicant’s finalised score will be issued by the authority.

The higher your score is, the more you will be placed at the front on the social housing waiting list.

However, the new sequence will not affect the existing order of the 5,821 applicants already on the waiting list.

In other words, a new applicant will never be placed in front of any of the old applicants on the waiting list, even if the former scores a higher score than the latter.

It also means that priorities will be given to those 5,821 households when the IH starts to arrange applicants to move into social housing units at a later time.

Although it cannot be certain that how long a household will need to wait until a unit is being allocated to them, when it finally comes the IH will give them details of two different units and from there they will need to choose one they would like to move in.

No house inspection will be arranged.

Only one chance will be given and if the applicant does not like either of the two options, they will be placed at the end of the queue and have to wait for the next round.

On the other hand, if the applicant does not move into the selected unit eventually after making a decision, his qualification will be cancelled and he will be removed from the waiting list.

The first rental contract signed between the government and the household will last half a year. After that the contract will be renewed annually subject to a new examination of income made by all occupants in the unit.

If a household’s gross monthly income is beyond the cap set in the regulations for three consecutive years, or the gross monthly income equals to double or more of the cap for two consecutive years, the Housing Bureau will have the right to terminate the rental agreement unilaterally when the current tenancy comes to an end.

At present, the rent of each social housing unit varies depending on that particular household’s total monthly income.

For example a family of four members who earns a total of 12,000 patacas a month will be charged a monthly rent of 1,800 patacas.

However, the IH told the MDTimes yesterday an administrative regulation which is to introduce a new calculation method for social housing rents is expected to be promulgated before the next batch of applicants starting to move into their selected apartments.

The social housing projects which are still under construction right now will be able to provide 2,753 units after completion.

They are respectively in Fai Chi Kei, Mong Ha and also Ilha Verde where an estate formed by three buildings – A, B and C – is being built.

Of which, the construction of 252-unit Building C specially for elderly people is expected to be completed at the end of this year, while 672-unit Building B in the first quarter of 2010.

However, since there are already up to nearly 6,000 households on the waiting list but only less than 3,000 social housing units are going to be available in the near future, it seems that the new applicants will need to wait for a couple of years until units can be allocated to them.

The IH yet pointed out that among those 5,812 households, some of them may no longer meet the application requirements after years of wait, and hence eventually the new applicants may be able to move into public housing sooner.

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