Thu, Oct 31, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Ko doubles down on impossibility of housing proposal

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je gestures while talking to reporters in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday reiterated that the central government’s goal of building at least 200,000 social housing units in eight years is “impossible.”

During a question and answer session at the Taipei City Council on Tuesday, Ko said President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) plan to create 200,000 social housing units in eight years is “unbelievable” and “impossible,” and that “even Taipei City does not have 20,000 units.”

“Social housing is more difficult than we thought,” he said.

The Ministry of the Interior on Tuesday issued a release that said Ko was “going around in circles.”

The ministry said that about 30,000 units are currently being used or under construction, with a few thousand additional units slated for construction by the end of the year.

By the end of next year, the release said, there would be about 47,000 units completed or under construction, exceeding the government’s initial goal of 40,000 units.

The ministry also said that housing affairs are the duty of local governments, though the central government has assisted and provided subsidies in the past three years, allowing the first phase of social housing to launch smoothly.

Additionally, the ministry said it would continue efforts to build 120,000 units and provide 80,000 units for rental in the next phase.

“Taipei is the Republic of China’s Taipei, not Ko Wen-je’s Taipei,” it said.

If Ko does not want to shoulder the responsibility for young people’s needs, the central government would take it up by arranging land, financial funding and human resources for the project, the ministry added.

When asked for comment yesterday, Ko said: “Then does Taipei belong to Tsai Ing-wen?”

“Social housing need to be built, instead of only paying lip-service,” he added.

Ko said there are nearly 10,000 units under construction in Taipei now, but every social housing project takes about six years from planning to construction to allowing residents to move in, so it needs a national long-term policy that is implemented step by step, instead of simply shouting slogans.

Among the 200,000 units in eight years, about 50,000 units would be Taipei’s responsibility, but he now knows that would be impossible to achieve, he said.

So “if I [the Taipei City Government] fail to achieve the goal, you [the central government] will certainly fail too,” he added.

Taipei’s next mayor would have about 8,000 social housing units completed in their first term because the units that were under construction in his second term would not be finished in four years.

There should be consensus and consistent goals on national policies so that any mayor can continue to implement them, he said.

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