Thirty-eight of 120 Aboriginal households living in a government-owned housing complex in Sijhih (汐止), Taipei County, who have failed to pay their rent for long periods of time, will be forced to leave their homes by the end of next month.
The housing complex — Huatung New Village — was constructed by the Council of Indigenous Peoples (CIP) in 2000 on the instructions of former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) to resettle Aborigines from Hualien and Taitung counties who were living in illegally constructed houses because of economic difficulties.
Although the CIP only charges between NT$1,000 and NT$4,000 per month rent for each housing unit, as many as 38 households say they cannot afford it. Figures provided by the CIP show some households owe as much as NT$300,000 in unpaid rent.
Several residents pleaded with the government to extend the payment deadline to the end of the year.
“We will work hard to pay off the debts, but we hope that the CIP could take into consideration our difficulties and extend the deadline to the end of the year,” said the head of the community, Huang Chung-min (黃聰敏), who is one of the residents set to be evicted.
“A lot of residents came to ask me what they are supposed to do because they don’t have money to pay the rent,” Huang said. “A lot of the households have five, six, or even more than 10 people in the family, they don’t know where to stay or how they would be able to send their kids to school after the government forces them out.”
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Luo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) asked CIP Minister Chang Jen-hsiang (章仁香) to extend the deadline for payments at an Internal Administration Committee meeting yesterday, but Chang refused, saying that the CIP had done what it could to help.
“Of course we’re willing to help those who are in need; that’s why we’ve conducted a household-by-household survey,” Chang said. “But we’ve found some people who shouldn’t have any problem paying the rent, but simply won’t.”
“There’s a man surnamed Lin [林] who hasn’t paid his rent since 2002,” Chang continued. “He’s actually a Sijhih City councilor and should be able to pay the rent with his NT$45,000 monthly income.”
She went on to say that Huang should be able to pay his NT$3,000 rent too, since both his daughter and son-in-law have jobs and he gets an NT$3,000 per month pension.
“We’ve also tried to help residents who are genuinely economically disadvantaged find jobs, such as in the local library, but they didn’t show much interest, saying the pay was too low,” Chang said.
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