The Taipei City Government said yesterday it was planning to expand its public housing program and build more houses at designated locations around the city next year in an effort to tackle skyrocketing house prices.
Taipei City’s Department of Urban Development has selected six pieces of municipal land, located mainly in Wenshan (文山) and Neihu (內湖) districts, for construction of public housing units. The project is scheduled for completion in 2014, and the houses will be for rent only, said Liang I-chu (梁一柱), a division chief at the department.
The call for the government to provide more public housing and build affordable homes has grown recently in response to soaring house prices in the Greater Taipei area.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilors Chien Yu-yen (簡余晏) and Lee Ching-feng (李慶鋒) said the average price of a new house in the city’s Zhongshan District (中山), for example, has reached NT$1 million (US$31,800) per ping (3.3m²), while there are only 59 empty public rental housing units available in the city.
“So far all measures provided by the government to dampen house prices have failed. The city government should provide public rental housing units and rent subsidies as a more effective measure,” Chien said yesterday at the Taipei City Council.
The Cabinet promised earlier this month to increase the housing supply by releasing available public housing and building affordable houses in a number of suburbs close to MRT stations.
The government also tried to rein in soaring housing prices by increasing taxes on luxury apartments and by offering partial mortgage interest relief for low-income families and the young.
Chien said the government should learn from Hong Kong and Singapore, where public housing units account for more than 80 percent of all houses, offering rented accommodation at a reasonable price as a long-term solution to housing problems.
In Taipei, the city government stopped building public housing in 2006, and there is a 10-year waiting list for public housing units. The monthly rent for a public housing unit measuring 19 ping is about NT$5,600, according to information from the department.
Liang said the city government would offer at least 200 housing units after construction of new public housing program is completed in 2014.