Fri, Mar 23, 2012 - Page 2 News List

‘Homeless’ owners slam Taipei over project delays

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Property owners in Shilin, Taipei City, who agreed to their buildings being demolished as part of a Taipei City Government urban renewal plan hold a press conference in Shilin yesterday saying they are victims of delays in the project.

Photo: Huang Chi-hao, Taipei Times

As the Wang family continues to protest a plan by the Taipei City Government to demolish their homes to give way to an urban renewal project in Shilin District (士林), representatives of 38 other households on the block who have agreed to the project lashed out at the city government yesterday, accusing it of rendering them “homeless” because of project delays.

“The Wangs call themselves victims of urban renewal, well, we are also victims of urban renewal,” a homeowner in his 60s, also surnamed Wang (王), told a press conference. “We’re suffering the consequences of a mistake we made, which was trusting in the city government too much.”

More than three years ago, Le Young Construction initiated an urban renewal project on a block in Shilin to turn a dozen decades-old apartment buildings into a 15-story high-rise apartment complex.

The Wang family — dubbed the “Wangs of Shilin” by the media — own two two-story houses in the area and has rejected the urban renewal project, although the other 38 households in the area had given their consent.

Under the Urban Renewal Act (都市更新條例), the construction firm may ask the city government to flatten the Wangs’ homes even if they refuse to move out since more than 75 percent of the landowners on the project site have agreed to the plan.

The Wangs have taken every means to prevent their homes from being demolished, including suggesting that their houses be excluded from the project.

However, with the city and the construction firm insisting that the project cannot proceed unless all houses on the site are taken down, construction has been stalled for three years.

The 38 other households whose residences voiced their anger yesterday.

“We agreed to participate in the urban renewal project only because it was backed by the city government,” said Lai Mei-hsun (賴美勳), a former homeowner. “It’s been three years. How long do we have to wait before we get a place to live?”

Hsieh Chun-chiao (謝春嬌), another former resident, urged the city government to look after people like her who trusted the government and agreed to take part in the urban renewal project.

“For the past three years, members of my family have had to live apart as we have to rent houses at different locations. We also have to pay rent even though we’re entitled to new housing units in the planned apartment complex,” Hsieh said. “When is the government going to look after our right?”

“My 77-year-old sick mother now lives in a nursing home. She asks me when she will be able to come home every day ... and I have no answer for that,” another former resident surnamed Lee (李) said. “We trusted the city government. We thought we would have a new house to live in, but we’ve got nothing so far.”

“[Taipei] Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), we want a home!” Lee shouted, in tears.

Asked if they would accept a proposal whereby the Wang family’s property would be spared and the contractor would go ahead with the new building, the former residents said the only thing they were looking for was a place for themselves.

“It’s up to the city government and the construction firm to decide,” they said.

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