Sat, Dec 24, 2016 - Page 1 News List

Amendment to Housing Act clears legislature

ABORIGINE CLAUSE:KMT Legislator Sra Kacaw said improved benefits for Aborigines were crucial, as they own homes at a much lower rate than average

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan brings down the gavel as an amendment to the Housing Act passes its third reading in the legislature in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times

Amendments to the Housing Act (住宅法) aimed at assisting young people and disadvantaged groups with accommodation cleared the legislative floor yesterday.

After months of deliberation and negotiations the amendments passed amid applause from the lawmakers and civil groups, while the Ministry of the Interior expressed gratitude.

The changes increase the percentage of social housing reserved for “economically and socially vulnerable” groups to rent from 10 percent to 30 percent, while a portion is to be for those who work or study in a region outside their household registration area.

The qualification criteria for those applying for housing subsidies have also been adjusted, with economically and socially vulnerable groups and applicants who need work done on their homes because of structural concerns prioritized.

The rules offer landlords a tax break if they lease to vulnerable groups and those granted housing subsidies, with rent income to be tax be exempt if it is less than NT$10,000 per abode.

People living in illegally built structures who meet certain conditions qualify for three years of housing subsidies to help them move into legal housing.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wu Yu-chin (吳玉琴), who participated in the amendment process, said the emphasis of this round of amendments was to “lower the threshold for vulnerable groups to find proper housing, raise incentives for leasers to become ‘public welfare landlords,’ write off possible impediments to the construction of social housing and increase the percentage of social welfare facilities in the process of building social housing.”

KMT Legislator Sra Kacaw (鄭天財), an Amis, thanked the legislature and his colleagues for adding clauses that guarantee Aborigines improved benefits, including a percentage of social housing not lower than the ratio of the number of Aborigines to the overall population.

He said the guarantee is crucial, as the percentage of Aborigines who own houses is much lower than the national average, while the difference is even greater in the six special municipalities.

Minister of the Interior Yeh Jiunn-rong (葉俊榮) expressed gratitude to the legislature after the amendments were passed, saying that while lawmakers have different opinions on the percentage of social housing to be guaranteed for vulnerable groups, the ministry’s version won their support.

It has been a concern of lawmakers from regions outside the six special municipalities that social housing might become a perk for city dwellers, but the ministry should strive to create a mechanism to accommodate the needs in different areas, Yeh said.

Taiwan has only 7,281 homes that are “rent only” social housing, which is only 0.08 percent of the national total, the ministry said.

It is ostensibly lower than the 5 percent in Japan and South Korea and the 30 percent in European countries, it said.

Additional reporting by CNA

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