IOFC Holds Public Forum to Discuss Housing Problems and Sub-divided Units in Hong Kong
The Centre of Land Resource and Housing Policy of the Institute of Future Cities (IOFC), The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) organized a public forum on ‘Housing Problems and Sub-divided Units in Hong Kong’ recently to provide a platform for stakeholders, researchers, students, media and the public who are interested in the housing issue to exchange views.
Prof. Leung Yee, Director of IOFC, CUHK officiated at the opening ceremony, while Prof. Yiu Chung Yim, Associate Director of IOFC, served as the moderator of the forum. Prof. Yip Ngai Ming, Immediate Past Chairman of Chartered Institute of Housing Asian Pacific Branch; the Honorable Tony Tse Wai-chuen, Legislative Councillor (Functional Constituency – Architectural, Surveying and Planning); Mr. Keith Wong, Chief Officer of Hong Kong Council of Social Services; Mr. Lai Kin Kwok, Convenor of Platform of Concerning Subdivided Flats Issue; Prof. Sujata Govada, Adjunct Associate Professor of CUHK School of Architecture, Founding and Managing Director of UDP International, President of AIA Hong Kong, and Global Trustee of Urban Land Institute, delivered speeches and deliberated over their viewpoints on today’s housing problems. In the Opening speech, Prof. Leung Yee pointed out that the increase in housing demand, the insufficiency of housing supply and the affordability of housing in Hong Kong have drawn huge attention within society, and this forum aimed to provide an open platform to discuss these issues and find solutions.
Prof. Yip Ngai Ming, Immediate Past Chairman of the Chartered Institute of Housing Asian Pacific Branch, conducted in-depth telephone interviews with 2,000 young people in Hong Kong over the past two years to understand their housing aspirations and constraints. Professor Yip found that while three quarters of the young people (76%) aspire to buy property; the soaring housing price is the major constraint in their aspiration. Ninety percent of the respondents think that housing prices rise faster than their income. He remarked that most respondents hope the government can provide more subsidized housing, and that they regard applying for public housing as their housing right.
The Honorable Tony Tse Wai-chuen, Legislative Councillor (Functional Constituency – Architectural, Surveying and Planning), said that a standard that included average living space per person and housing affordability should be set up to measure the housing problem in Hong Kong. While housing supply has decreased over the past 10 years, housing demand keeps on rising. Mr. Tse pointed out that the major solution to the housing problem was to increase housing supply by providing more developable land and housing units.
Mr. Keith Wong, Chief Officer of Hong Kong Council of Social Services, introduced the research design for a project titled ‘The Rental Index of Subdivided Housing Units’, drawing a comparison between rateable values of housing flats and the actual market rents of the subdivided housing units within the flat of the same size. Mr. Wong demonstrated the calculation method with examples, revealing the unaffordability of the subdivided units. Mr. Lai Kin Kwok, Convenor of Platform of Concerning Subdivided Flats Issue, further advocated a change of government policies in the short, middle and long term, e.g. providing transitional housing for residents who are forced to leave subdivided units by government authorities, pursuing the tenancy regulations, and reclaiming urban land from Urban Renewal Authority for public rental housing in city center.
Prof. Sujata Govada, Adjunct Associate Professor of CUHK School of Architecture, Founding and Managing Director of UDP International, President of AIA Hong Kong, and Global Trustee of Urban Land Institute, shared her views on affordable housing in Hong Kong from an international perspective. Professor Govada elaborated on the evolution of Hong Kong Housing Typology, analyzed the existing housing problems and compared them with several other cities in the world (London, New York and Singapore). She concluded that housing problems are common to different cities, but that Hong Kong should have a strategic vision, supported by an integrated policy framework and help develop innovative strategies by thinking outside existing practices to tackle them.
At the end of the forum, Prof. Leung Yee said, in summary, ‘The housing problem is not all about housing policy. It is also affected by various factors such as population policy and land policy.’ Professor Leung called on collaboration among government departments, academics, industries and the general public to find effective solutions to the housing problem in terms of housing affordability, sustainability and livability.