Fri, Jun 30, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Taipei to refurbish, rent out idle veterans housing units

By Chung Hung-liang and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The Taipei Department of Finance has proposed converting idle housing units for military veterans into low-rent social housing, the city’s finance chief said.

The plan would alleviate pressures on urban housing faster than building new social housing complexes and make use of existing city properties, Department of Finance Commissioner Chen Chih-ming (陳志銘) said.

While Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) had promised to build 20,000 social housing units during his mayoral campaign, the Taipei Department of Urban Development estimates that the city would only be able to complete 3,453 units before his term ends next year.

Citing Department of Finance data, Chen said Taipei has 715 vacant veterans residential units.

The city was planning to reclaim the idle units for redevelopment, but since some of the units are within properties that are partially occupied by veterans’ families, they cannot be demolished, he said.

Refurbishing these unoccupied units and leasing them out would cost less for taxpayers, with each unit expected to generate about NT$10,000 in monthly rental income for the city, Chen said.

Some of the most promising properties are the dormitory units of Taipei Municipal Jianguo High School and Taipei School for the Hearing Impaired, he said.

Expressing his support for the proposal, Taipei Department of Urban Development Executive Secretary Lo Shih-yu (羅世譽) said his department would begin evaluating costs and revenue levels as soon as the properties are inventoried.

Among the properties targeted for redevelopment are a former school faculty dormitory at Xinxing Market in Zhongshan District (中山), which is expected to yield 37 units in February next year, and the Ankang Public Housing Project in Wenshan District (文山), which is expected to furnish 112 units by March next year, Lo said.

Democratic Progressive Party Taipei City Councilor Lee Ching-feng (李慶鋒) also voiced his support for the project, adding that the city government should adopt a multi-pronged approach to urban housing.

Social housing projects have encountered opposition from local residents and the city’s plan to convert veterans’ housing units could trigger a similar backlash, Lee said.

The city should be ready to negotiate with local residents who might disagree with its policy, he said.

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