Tue, Mar 10, 2015 - Page 4 News List

Ko’s MRT housing too costly: Taipei councilor

HOUSING HOSTILITIES:A Taipei official was forced to apologize after calling capital homeowners selfish for seeking segregated doors for public housing residents

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Apartments included in Taipei’s recently proposed public housing plan are too expensive to be rented by truly needy residents, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Wang Hong-wei (王鴻薇) said yesterday.

At a news conference, Wang compared rents for city-owned MRT apartments announced last week with rents posted online for similarly sized apartments nearby. Rents for the newly constructed MRT apartments were two to three times as expensive because of added amenities and management fees, she said.

Under the city’s plans, 570 housing units next to Longshan Temple, Gangqian, Taipei Bridge and Xindian Depot MRT stations are to be rented out beginning next month with monthly rents ranging from NT$8,400 to NT$29,800. Units would be rented only to individuals earning less than NT$52,000 per month, with 10 percent of units reserved for members of disadvantaged groups.

Given the relatively high rental rates, the new apartments would likely only help those who she called “wealthy youth,” rather than those who truly could not afford to rent a home in Taipei, Wang said.

“If you have a monthly income of NT$50,000, there are a lot of choices of where you can rent in Taipei,” she said. “Rent this high will not help those truly in need.”

Wang also criticized the rates for being higher than those in a similar MRT housing program during the administration of former Taipei mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), a member of the KMT.

The previous developments were made available for 30 percent below market rates for new MRT housing, in contrast to the new units being marked down by 15 percent, with the possibility of an additional 15 percent markdown in subsequent years if renters abide by city standards for heath, cleanliness and safety, she said.

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) has said that harsher conditions for the new round of public housing were imposed to satisfy the demands of nearby residents, who expressed concern about “the type of residents” the projects would attract.

On Sunday, Ko said that he hoped to raise the existing cap on the income of eligible renters for future public housing developments, adding that the apartments are not intended for truly “low-income” renters.

Further controversy over residential landowners’ opposition to public housing erupted yesterday when Taipei Department of Urban Development Commissioner Lin Jou-min (林洲民) said in a radio interview with Voice of Taipei (台北之音) that apartment owners living within an MRT housing development in New Taipei City’s Sanchong District (三重) had demanded that tenants of discounted publicly owned apartments be required to enter through a different door from ordinary residents.

Lin incited controversy over the weekend by calling Taipei residents “selfish” for being prejudiced against public housing residents. Lin later apologized.

Meanwhile, former Taipei deputy mayor Chang Chin-oh (張金鶚) — a professor of land economics at National Chengchi University — on Sunday said that because the rental housing was a distinct submarket, subsidized rental housing units would not depress the market values of surrounding housing, at the same time urging that the percentage of housing reserved for members of disadvantaged groups be tripled.

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