Where To Live? The Demand For Affordable Housing in Hong Kong
Jack Jongtavongul’s living situation is not ideal, but he refuses to let a tight housing market squeeze him out of Hong Kong. 22 years old and a senior in college, Jack will work for an insurance company after graduation. Right now, however, he’s living with his parents in a public housing estate.
Hong Kong’s transport and housing bureau reports that more than 2 million people – or about 30% of the population – lives in this type of government subsidized housing. The bureau also reports a 3 year waiting list to move in. But, both government officials and real estate professionals dispute these numbers. They say there are over 250,000 yearly applicants and applicants could wait over 5 years to move in. At the beginning of the century, there was a sharp decline in the development of new public housing. Albert Chan, a Hong Kong legislative councilman, says in 2014 only 9,000 new public housing units were built -- even with a waiting list of over 200,000 Hong Kong residents.
Peter Churchouse, an economist and longtime professional in Hong Kong real estate, says that the housing situation is complicated because of low interest rates, too. Combine low interest rates, a low supply of available housing, and a decrease in construction, the cost to live in Hong Kong has become unaffordable for much of the population. So people like Jack, who are educated and employed, may not have a place to call their own for quite some time.