Hundreds of residents yesterday gathered at a forum in downtown Taipei, where housing prices are the highest in the nation, to demand housing justice.
The forum, held by the Housing Right Reform Union, took place at a plaza near the intersection of Zhongxiao E Road and Dunhua S Road, where the Snails Without Shells movement was launched 30 years ago.
The forum called on the government to implement a “List Real Price 2.0” policy, levy taxes on people who hoard properties and step up efforts to build social housing.
Photo: Yang Hsin-hui, Taipei Times
Participants chanted slogans, vowing to realize housing justice by beating plutocracy.
Organization of Urban Re-s secretary-general Peng Yang-kae (彭揚凱) said that finding housing is difficult for young Taiwanese, due to homeowners and construction companies driving up property prices, an unregulated rental market and an underdeveloped “social housing security net.”
From 2003 to 2013, the government believed that high housing prices could drive economic growth, which would in turn boost people’s income and make them more likely to purchase homes, but the theory has been proven wrong, as steep prices did not bring the economic benefits that the government had expected, Peng said.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) during her campaign for the 2016 presidential election asked the right questions with her housing platform, which promised to make housing information transparent, push housing tax reforms and build social housing, but the problems have not been solved, Peng said.
He urged people to pay close attention to politicians and who among them portray themselves as in favor of more reasonable housing prices, but have actually blocked efforts to achieve that goal.
Huang Li-ling (黃麗玲), an associate professor at National Taiwan University’s Graduate Institute of Building and Planning, said that people who benefit from high housing prices say that prices increase due to high demand, but in reality, a large number of unused homes remain unsold.
With the nation’s social housing coverage falling far behind that of advanced nations, such as the Netherlands, France and South Korea, and being even lower than the coverage in Myanmar, Vietnam and Indonesia, she said that people should follow the example of environmental advocate Greta Thunberg at a UN summit on climate change in September and ask the Taiwanese politicians: “How dare you?”
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator William Tseng (曾銘宗) told the forum that the party supports “List Real Price 2.0.”
However, union cofounder and New Power Party Legislator Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) said that only two KMT legislators voted in favor of the policy during the previous legislative session, while the other 33 were absent.
Some lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party did not vote for the policy, which was sponsored by the Executive Yuan, he said.
When similar proposals emerged in 2011, they were struck down at the Legislative Yuan, he said, adding that then-KMT legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) had attributed the outcome to pushback from construction companies, which would not accept being required to register the real-time prices of pre-sold homes.
He asked participants to review the housing policies proposed by politicians during their election campaigns in 2014, 2016 and last year to find out whether they have delivered on their promises.
Former Taipei Department of Urban Development commissioner and union cofounder Lin Jou-min (林洲民) said that he hopes the government would act on the event’s three appeals to spare participants from having to gather again at the same location in 30 years.
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