More people in public housing queue eligible to buy

Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Thursday said more low-income earners will be allowed to buy public units, to help them get on the property ladder and reduce the waiting time for public housing.

Lam said applicants who have been in the public housing queue for more than a year will be eligible to buy a flat under the Green Form Subsidised Home Ownership Scheme.

She said the price of the subsidised flats is well below market levels. Citing a 290-square-foot unit in Yau Tong that goes for HK$1.77 million, the CE said the buyer faces a downpayment of HK$88,000 and a monthly mortgage payment of HK$8,000 over 25 years, making it affordable to many families.

“It will give them hope that they will have a chance to buy a public flat and they don’t have to queue for a public rental unit anymore,” she said.

But a concern group said the pilot scheme won’t solve the housing problem among the grassroots, because they couldn’t afford to buy.

Lai Kin-kwok from the Hong Kong Subdivided Flats Concerning Platform said building more public rental units is the most direct way to tackle the housing shortage.

“If they’re waiting for public rental housing, they may have limited income. Under the fluctuating economic environment, if they buy a house, there’ll be a large financial stress to them. So I think increasing the public rental housing units is much more helpful to them,” he said.

The current average waiting time for public housing stands at a record 5.9 years.

The chief executive also announced that resale restrictions on subsidised flats will be tightened to curb speculation.