Average wait time for Hong Kong public housing rises to 5.8 years

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Average wait time for Hong Kong public housing rises to 5.8 years

The average waiting time for a rental flat in Hong Kong’s public housing system has increased to 5.8 years, with the government citing construction delays.

Oi Man Estate in Ho Man Tin. Photo: Hillary Leung/HKFP.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Housing Authority said the average waiting time for a public rental flat in the fourth quarter of 2023 had risen by 0.2 years to 5.8 years.

Around 13,700 public rental flats were allocated last year, a significant drop from the 26,400 in 2022. The Housing Authority said the longer wait times were due to the allocation of rental flats in 2023 being the “lowest in recent years.”

Made with Flourish

The statement said an industrial accident in September 2022, when a crane in Sau Mau Ping collapsed and killed three workers, caused production delays. After the incident, some construction projects were suspended for inspections.

Among the projects delayed were Lai Yiu Estate in Kwai Chung and Fu Tip Estate in Tai Po, which combined would have seen the allocation of over 7,500 flats, the Housing Authority said.

falling crane anderson road sau mau ping
The collapse of a construction crane in Sau Mau Ping on Sept. 7, 2022. Photo: Screenshot, via RTHK.

Meanwhile, the average waiting time for elderly one-person applicants increased by 0.1 year to 4 years.

The waiting time for flats in the New Territories was lower than in other areas. Around 46 per cent of applicants housed in the New Territories had waited five years or less, compared to around one-quarter elsewhere.

‘Clear upward trend’ in supply

The Housing Authority said there would be a “short-term increase” in the average waiting time for public flats, but supply would “register a clear upward trend” in the coming decade.

Projects in Tuen Mun, Tung Chung and New Territories North would be completed in the coming two years, it said.

A public housing estate in Hong Kong. File photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.
A public housing estate in Hong Kong. File photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

Around 30,000 Light Public Housing (LPH) units are also expected to be finished early next year. The LPH scheme, unveiled by Chief Executive John Lee in his 2022 Policy Address, is a transitional housing project aimed at families queueing for public flats. Under the scheme, tenants can occupy the units for a fixed term of two years.

Tackling the city’s housing crisis was among the issues mentioned by Chinese leader Xi Jinping, when he visited the city in 2022 to mark the 25th anniversary of its Handover to China.

“Currently, the biggest aspiration of Hong Kong people is to lead a better life, in which they will have more decent housing,” Xi said at the time.

The number of applicants in line for public housing has fallen steadily in recent years, from 155,100 at the end of 2017 to 129,400 at the end of last year.

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