About 50 homeowners who agreed to urban renewal projects in Taipei yesterday protested against the indefinite delay of the projects due to opposition against the plans, urging the Taipei City Government to exercise its authority and facilitate the projects.
Carrying placards and shouting slogans “We want to go home!” and “Give me back my right to life,” representatives of households who participated in urban renewal projects in Shilin District (士林) and the Yongchun community (永春社區) in Xinyi District (信義) said the ongoing protest against the projects from a small group of local residents and their supporters have demonized urban renewal and made them homeless as the projects have been stalled.
“We’ve followed legal procedures in participating in urban renewal projects, but our dream of moving into new homes has become a nightmare. Nineteen senior residents in the participating households have already passed away, and we don’t know how much longer we have to wait,” said Liu Der-feng (劉德玢), director of the self-help group in Yongchun for residents affected by the delays, at a press conference at the Taipei City Council.
The urban renewal in Shilin has been stalled for over three years, even after the city government in March tore down housing units owned by the Wang (王) family, who refused to take part in the project.
The Wang family — dubbed the “Wangs of Shilin” by the media — owned a two-floor building in the area and have rejected the urban renewal project, although the other 38 households in the area had given their consent.
The Wang family and a group of advocates continued to occupy the building site to prevent the construction.
The urban renewal project in Yongchun has also been stalled for almost four years due to opposition from some residents. Participating resident Huang Li-chen (黃麗貞) said 92 percent of households had consented to the project and agreed to change the construction blueprint so that the households who refused to join could be excluded.
“We are making concessions unwillingly because we cannot afford to wait any longer. We urge the city government to help us with the project and put an end to this farce as soon as possible,” she said.
Taipei City Urban Redevelopment Office director Lin Chung-chieh (林崇傑) said the city government would assist with the change of the construction plan in the Yongchun renewal once the construction firm files an application.
Regarding the project in Shilin, he said the city government will continue to help the Wang family and participating households reach a consensus, but the construction firm was responsible for the ongoing disputes at the construction site.
The Wang family and their advocates yesterday stayed firm on their stances, calling on the consenting homeowners to focus their attention on the urban renewal system instead.
“The real problem is that existing regulations have failed to respect individuals’ freedom of choice in whether to participate in urban renewal projects. Both the rights of participating and non-participating households should be respected,” Taiwan Urban Renewal Victims’ Association director Peng Lung-san (彭龍三) said.