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Gov’t to boost homeownership

October 11, 2017

Chief Executive Carrie Lam has outlined plans to help people of different means to become home owners. 


In her 2017 Policy Address today, Mrs Lam said meeting the public’s housing needs is the Government’s top priority and the Government has an indispensable role to play in the provision of adequate housing.


Noting the Green Form Subsidised Home Ownership Scheme (GSH) can help the better-off public housing tenants move up the housing ladder and vacate their units for the needy, she said she has asked the Housing Authority to consider regularising the scheme and offering more GSH flats for sale.


An initial assessment by the Housing Department revealed that some 4,000 new public housing units in Fo Tan, Sha Tin, can be converted into GSH units for sale in late 2018, she added.


Moreover, she said the Government will continue to increase the supply of Home Ownership Scheme (HOS) flats, and she has proposed to the authority to regularise the Interim Scheme of Extending the HOS Secondary Market to White Form Buyers.


She expected the move will give tenants of private premises more opportunities to become home owners and boost the turnover of HOS flats.


Turning to the idea of “Starter Homes” for middle-class families, Mrs Lam said the Government will provide these units only on the premise that the existing supply of public housing will not be affected.


The land supply for “Starter Homes” will have to come from sites already owned by private developers or to be bought from the Government.


She added her initial plan is to incorporate provisions into the land lease to require developers to pursue mixed developments with private units and a specified number of “Starter Homes” units.


Eligible people for “Starter Homes” must be local residents who have lived in Hong Kong for at least seven years and have never owned any property here. 


Their income ceiling will be set at not exceeding $34,000 a month for singletons and $68,000 for households of two or more members. 


The prices and sizes of “Starter Homes” units will be determined having regard to the affordability of eligible buyers. The restrictions on transfer of property title may be tighter than those for the HOS.


She said details on the scheme will be finalised in mid-2018 and a pilot scheme will be launched by the end of next year using a residential site at Anderson Road, Kwun Tong, to provide about 1,000 units.


On the short-term ways to increase housing supply, Mrs Lam said the Government will optimise the use of idle government premises to provide units for the needy at an affordable rent.


The Government will support the Community Housing Movement launched by the Council of Social Service to convert idle or underutilised flats provided by landlords into temporary housing for the grassroots, and encourage other organisations to participate in the movement.


The Government will also explore the wholesale conversion of industrial buildings into transitional housing with land premium waiver, and support non-profit-making organisations to explore the feasibility of constructing pre-fabricated modular housing on idle sites, she added.