By Poyi (Natalie) Leung
Up to 70 percent of all affordable housing units will be two bedrooms (T2) in response to applicant demands, government officials told lawmakers yesterday.
The Third Standing Committee of the Legislative Assembly met with Secretary for Transport and Public Works, Lau Si Io, and other government representatives to discuss the draft law for the construction and sale system of affordable housing.
The officials disclosed that in the future 10 percent of the units will be one bedroom (T1), 70 percent T2 and 20 percent T3, ‘as the majority of the current applicants are two-member households’, the standing committee president, Cheang Chi Keong, told reporters.
The government had announced in the previous meeting that T4 units for households with over five members will no longer be built due to low demand.
At present around 80 households are on the waiting list for T4 units but less than 50 of these are planned or already built.
Cheang said the government has proposed to give the remaining 30 households priority to choose T3 apartments instead, which was generally agreed by the lawmakers.
The committee president added that the halt in the construction of T4 units will not be a ‘great issue’ as some households family situations may have changed and a T4 unit may not still be required.
Meanwhile, Cheang said the standing committee has questioned the feasibility of the ‘elderly nuclear family’ category, the top of the four categories under the lot-drawing system proposed in the draft law to determine applicant places on the waiting list.
Applicants who are living with elderly people will be placed in this category, the first to be given the choice and relocate to an affordable unit when allocation begins.
However, the draft law also requires the elderly – defined as 65 years old or above – to make the application and be listed as sole owner.
Although the category is aiming to encourage people to live with their elderly family members, Cheang said lawmakers have raised concerns about their abilities of securing a bank loan.
“Would a 65-year-old be able to support the instalments of a 30-year mortgage? And if they want to sell the unit they need to wait 16 years until they reach 81,” he pointed out.
“Even banks will be reluctant to lend money for a 65-year-old to buy a house. If no changes are made here, we expect that there won’t be many applicants in this category,” he warned.
Cheang said the government has agreed to rethink whether or not it’s necessary for the elderly to be the affordable housing applicants.
The standing committee will hold a meeting again with government representatives this Thursday at 3.30pm. Cheang said they will mainly exchange further opinions regarding the most controversial topics of the draft law, namely the income ceiling and floor, the access mechanism and resale system (the 16-year lock-up period).