Hong Kong housing chief defends HK$4.4 billion operating costs of temporary housing scheme

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Hong Kong’s housing minister has defended an estimated HK$4.39 billion price tag for managing 30,000 temporary flats which are planned for the city, saying this would cover maintenance, cleaning, and other amenities.

The units will be part of the Light Public Housing (LPH) scheme, which aims to boost the city’s short-term housing supply by providing prefabricated flats that will be retired after five years of use.

The bureau’s estimate amounts to operational costs of around HK$1,000 per month for each temporary unit.

The scheme, announced in Chief Executive John Lee’s maiden policy address, caters for those waiting for public rental housing and offers flats at a relatively lower cost. Eligible tenants will be able to occupy the units for a fixed term of two years.β€˜Three in one’ Speaking in the Legislative Council on Thursday, Secretary for Housing Winnie Ho said that the bureau was taking a β€œthree-in-one” approach, whereby the operational costs would include cleaning and security services, maintenance, and other facilities including new transport links.

Ho was addressing lawmaker Vincent Cheng of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, who voiced concern about the operating costs and whether tenants would have to shoulder them.

She said a new bus stop with four new routes would be built near the LPH project at Siu Lam, as well as a waterfront promenade. β€œThese operational costs will be included in the project,” she said.

According to the bureau’s written response to lawmakers, the operational costs are expected to cover social services and other basic community facilities such as convenience stores, in addition to property management and daily
maintenance.

It also said direct comparison of operational costs was β€œnot suitable,” as LPH units were different from other forms of public housing.

According to government records, the average annual maintenance cost for public rental housing in 2022-23 was HK$5,380, while management costs were HK$6,980 on average. Source: Hong Kong Press HKFP

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