Fri, May 06, 2011 - Page 11 News List

Government developing ‘modern housing’ project

PARTNERSHIP:Christina Liu said the project, aimed at low-income families, would be constructed on public land and leased to the private sector for up to 70 years

By Amy Su  /  Staff Reporter

The government is planning to authorize a low-cost housing program that would be constructed by the private sector on government-owned land, Council for Economic Planning and Development Minister Christina Liu (劉憶如) said yesterday. This project targets low-income families to assist them in getting their own homes instead of being lifelong renters, she said.

These homes, called “modern housing” by the council, will be constructed as “green” buildings close to MRT stations, with utilities such as energy-conserving facilities and broadband network access.

“The concept of ‘modern housing’ is different from social housing, as the former is constructed to be sold instead of being rented out, for which social housing is intended,” Liu told a press briefing.

The government would open the bidding to private-sector developers interested in constructing these homes, while providing leasing rights for up to 70 years, rather than selling the land to developers, she said.

“The government owns land, but has no money to construct homes. This program solves this problem, as the private sector has enough capital for this,” Liu said.

The program could also help curb rising home prices in urban regions, one of the major complaints among the public, since high land values are the main reason behind excessive housing prices, she added.

The council will set a standard for people qualified to purchase “modern housing,” such as low-income families and those who have never owned a house.

“For families that have to pay rent every month, it is better to use the same money to buy a home to call their own, which they could sell at any time,” Liu said.

The government will also coordinate banks to provide long-term preferential loans to prospective homebuyers, she added.

The council’s project is borrowing a concept from Singapore’s experience of constructing public housing, which has proven to be successful.

“I believe ‘modern housing’ would not be opposed by nearby residents, as they are not only fancy, but also offer people who might be too young to afford a change in home ownership,” Liu said.

Currently, the government has settled on several lots owned by the Ministry of Finance, but Liu refused to specify the possible locations as these details are still under discussion among various agencies.

A National Property Administration officer said on condition of anonymity yesterday that the agency has not heard of the program.

“But we will fully cooperate with this program if it becomes a formal case,” the officer said by telephone.

The relevant government agencies have reached an initial consensus on the program, which will be submitted to the Cabinet for approval soon.

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