Average waiting time for Public Rental Housing will lengthen in coming five years
New administration should look to boost the supply of transitional housing
HONG KONG, 5 July 2022 – The average waiting time for Public Rental Housing (PRH) is expected to increase in the coming five years after it rose to 6.1 years as at March 2022, reportedly the longest in 23 years, according to JLL's Hong Kong Residential Sales Market Monitor released today.
In the Long Term Housing Strategy Annual Progress Report 2021, the Government announced a housing supply target for the 10-year period from 2022/23 to 2031/32 of 430,000 units, with public and private sector targets at 301,000 and 129,000 units respectively. However, expected completions in the near to medium term is low. The Transport and Housing Bureau projects that only 105,500 public flats will be completed between 2022/23 and 2026/27, representing less than one-third of the 10-year supply target.
On the demand side, figures by the Hong Kong Housing Authority showed that there were around 147,500 outstanding applications for PRH as at March 2022. In the past five years, the annual average production of PRH was 13,800 units, compared to 12,400 units in the coming five years. Assuming the new application volume will continue at the current pace, JLL expects the number of pending applications will accumulate further and the average waiting time for PRH lengthen. As such, demand for public housing will likely stay well above supply by a large margin.
Norry Lee, Senior Director of Projects Strategy and Consultancy Department at JLL, said: "The new SAR government should consider boosting the supply of transitional housing to relieve the PRH shortage. In view of the efficiency in the construction of transitional housing, we believe the authority may boost the supply of transitional housing in the coming two to three years as a temporary solution to alleviate the long wait. Whereas in the longer term, sufficient land supply for PRH is the fundamental solution to the housing problems in the city."
Transitional housing is an initiative the government launched to accommodate low-income families who are waiting to be housed in PRH. With the adoption of modular building, several transitional housing projects were made available in short periods. One recent example was the completion of '1 Cheong Sun' in February 2022 by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, offering 205 units. The project reportedly took only eight months from the commencement of foundation works to obtaining an Occupation Permit. Given the brief construction time needed, JLL believes that the government is capable of boosting a large volume of transitional housing within two to three years on sites that are otherwise idle for various reasons.
Nelson Wong, Head of Research at JLL, said: "Families in the queue for PRH typically rent old and dilapidated units, sub-divided rooms or accommodations in industrial buildings, bearing undue safety and security risks. While increasing public housing supply is the long-term solution, placing residents in transitional housing could also help relieve the PRH shortage to some extent."
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