By Poyi (Natalie) Leung
The Housing Bureau (IH) stressed that each successful applicant for affordable housing will only be permitted one opportunity to pass on a unit allocation, no matter how many waiting lists they are listed on, under the new law.
IH president Tam Kuong Man and chief of the public housing affairs department Cheang Sek Lam conducted an explanatory session of the Affordable Housing Law to the Macau Federation of Trade Unions (FAOM) and its affiliated member organisations yesterday.
About 10 attendees posed questions to the officials concerning details of the new law which will come into effect on October 1 this year.
At present an applicant may be placed on a maximum of 12 different waiting lists at the same time if, on their applications, they say they’re willing to accept an affordable housing unit of either one, two, three or four-bedrooms, either on the Macau peninsula, Taipa or Coloane.
Each of the combinations has a separate queue and the existing law allows eligible applicants two choices of flat per waiting list.
That means, for example, if a household has been placed on all 12 lists, they may have up to 23 chances to pass an allocation and only buy the final unit that the government assigns to them.
After an applicant has qualified, the IH will arrange the first apartment for them to consider for purchase. If the resident is not satisfied with the allocation, they will be given another unit for inspection, but it will be their last opportunity to buy or return to the bottom of the waiting list.
Cheang said to “ensure fairness” the new law stipulates that regardless of how many queues a household is in, they will only have a total of two opportunities to purchase housing allocated by the government.
He added that there are currently “several hundred” households that have applied for affordable housing in Coloane.
Meanwhile, one attendee questioned the IH officials about whether the new law has any measures to protect elderly residents from being improperly used by their children to apply for affordable housing.
From October 1 onwards, the nuclear family category will be placed on top of the waiting list and given priority in the allocation of units, meaning that advantage will be given to those who claim that they will be living with their parents, children or spouses.
Households with elderly or people with disabilities may even be afforded greater priority.
The attendee said “many” young people include their parents as part of the members of their household in their application but “in fact the elderly have no idea their names were used to apply for affordable housing” and after being allocated a unit, the children “refuse to live with their parents”.
And when these elderly residents try to apply for social housing, they will then realise that they aren’t eligible because IH records will show that they have already received affordable housing, the attendee added.
Cheang said he agrees that measures to protect this group of elderly people are needed and that the bureau will review methods accordingly.