Hot Topics takes an issue that is discussed in the news and allows you to compare and analyze different news articles and views on the topic. Our questions encourage you to dig deeper and can be used on your own or with a friend.

Background: Carrie Lam suggested that the Housing Authority provide grants to people on waiting lists to speed up the delivery of new housing

Hong Kong’s main public housing provider is expected to provide support payments to residents who wait years for subsidized apartments, chief executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor suggested last week. This suggestion was given for the purpose of speeding up the authority building program.

Lam said the Housing Authority is responsible for completing the construction process quickly once it receives the land. It should try to provide housing to applicants within three years of being put on the waiting list.

“The cash grants are currently provided by the government, but why shouldn’t it be the Housing Authority? If you build the estates slowly, you will have to pay, ”Lam said.

Lam’s statement refers to the Hong Kong government’s initiative launched in July. It offers money to those who have been hit by the world’s most expensive real estate market.

Hong Kong political speech: 5 key points from Carrie Lam’s speech

The subsidy program currently provides cash allowances for people who have been waiting for social housing for more than three years. In June, around 153,600 applicants lined up for public rental housing, with an average wait time of 5.8 years. It’s the longest wait time in 22 years and almost double the Housing Authority’s three-year service commitment.

The Long-Term Waiting List Subsidy Program gives HK $ 2,250 (US $ 1,860) per month to two-member households, and families of six or more receive HK $ 3,900. About 90,000 households could benefit from it.

Responding to Lam’s statement, a spokesperson for the Housing Authority said it has always cooperated with the government to build social housing as quickly as possible. He said the organization would allocate its resources to the sustainable management of its operating expenses and construction costs.


Question prompts:

  • Who is responsible for providing subsidized social housing to residents who cannot afford private apartments, and why? Explain using the context and your own knowledge.

  • Based on your answer above, explain whether the same agency should pay alimony to those who have been waiting for social housing for more than three years.

Hong Kong has long suffered from a shortage of land for housing, as well as a lack of affordable public housing. Photo: Martin Chan

News: Carrie Lam backs off on Housing Authority suggestion to pay subsidies

The Hong Kong leader backed down on a suggestion that the Housing Authority give cash donations to people on its multi-year waiting list.

In his weekly press briefing last Tuesday, Lam said his previous remarks proposing that the Housing Authority take responsibility for paying child support to prospective tenants was simply “to spark discussion.”

She praised the authority for providing 96,500 new public housing apartments over the past four years, a 50 percent increase from the previous five-year period. But she defended her suggestion as a way to motivate the statutory body and relevant officials to “go the extra mile” to speed up the construction process.

Hong Kong students say housing and online learning are biggest concerns

The town leader has been criticized by some in authority after he launched the suggestion earlier this month. She said her comments were aimed at “establishing a spirit of accountability” in the statutory body.

Housing Authority member Anthony Chiu Kwok-wai said he did not see how Lam’s idea of ​​shifting the burden of grants to the organization would help solve the problem.

“The problem is not who pays the money, because the Housing Authority, after all, also uses taxpayer money,” Chiu said.

Instead, he said the bottleneck was in the early stages, as most of the land allocated to the authority was not ready for the construction of public housing estates. It generally took a decade to prepare the ground for development with the necessary infrastructure in place such as roads, electricity, water supply and sewers, he added.

The fate of Hong Kong families waiting for social housing

Dr Billy Mak Sui-choi, another member of the Housing Authority, said various factors may have contributed to the delay, including land shortages – the responsibility of the government – as well as the efficiency levels of the government. authority.

It was therefore vital for the government to come up with a clear mechanism to monitor the performance of the Housing Authority, said Mak, who is also an economist at Baptist University.

“It is understandable and reasonable to hold the Housing Authority to account and monitor its work if the problems lie in the body,” he added.

“But it would be unfair to expect the authority to honor the three-year commitment if the land supply is insufficient.”


Question prompts:

  • Using News and Issue, identify and develop TWO competing views from Carrie Lam and the Housing Authority regarding the public housing shortage the city faces.

  • What criteria should be included in the “clear housing agency performance monitoring mechanism” mentioned by Dr Billy Mak Sui-choi at the end of News, and why?


Wait times for general applicants who moved into subsidized housing between July 2019 and June 2020. Photo: SCMP

Question prompts:

  • Describe TWO main characteristics of the data presented in the table.

  • Based on this table, Background and News, explain whether you think the Housing Authority has reasonably achieved its three-year target.

Issue: Hong Kong leader plans a new northern metropolis will providing over a million homes over the next three decades

General Manager Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor revealed in her political speech earlier this month that Hong Kong faces a shortfall of 3,000 hectares of land for housing, economic and recreational developments in the period to 2048, higher than an initial estimate of 1,200 hectares in a long overdue review of a planning study.

Lam said to alleviate the shortage, the administration had identified around 4,100 hectares of large projects through 2048 – including Lantau Tomorrow Vision, a large water reclamation program in the east of the island. Lantau and parts of a proposed “northern metropolis”.

The northern metropolis would be close to the border with mainland China and could provide up to 926,000 apartments.

“The solution to solving housing problems … is not about ‘quick fixes’ … but rather a determination to maintain the supply of land,” Lam said.

Managing Director Carrie Lam said the solution to Hong Kong’s housing problems “does not lie in ‘quick fixes’.” Photo: KY Cheng

She did not give an estimate of the cost of the project, but suggested that it would be financially viable. The lack of precise figures has raised fears that the 300 km² development project will end up weighing down financially on the city, because Lam had already proposed the Lantau Tomorrow Vision in a previous plan.

Witman Hung Wai-man, Senior Liaison Officer for Hong Kong with the Shenzhen Qianhai Authority, hailed the push for the northern metropolis of Lam as a plan to integrate the city into the development of Qianhai and the Grande Baie region, but feared the bureaucracy would derail the project.

“If Hong Kong still follows the old way of developing, going through endless studies, zoning and consultation, the northern metropolis will be just a castle in the air,” Hung said.

Ryan Ip Man-ki, head of land and housing at political think tank Our Hong Kong Foundation, shared similar views and proposed that the government establish a high-level unit or statutory body to oversee the metropolis project, eliminating bureaucracy.


Question prompts:

  • Issue and Context each mentions a solution to the city’s housing crisis. What is better, and why? Explain using your own knowledge.

  • What kinds of bureaucracy could Ryan Ip Man-ki refer to at the end of the issue, and how could that make the city’s current situation with housing shortages worse?

  • Some argue that the government should allocate more land to Lantau Tomorrow Vision instead of diverting resources to the northern metropolis. Using the problem, the glossary, and your own knowledge, explain ONE supporting reason and ONE reason against this argument.

Students say Lantau Tomorrow Vision is bad news for the city


Housing office: a statutory body in charge of the construction and management of public housing estates in Hong Kong

Housing Authority three-year service commitment: refers to the goal of the statutory body to provide the first housing offer to low-income families and elderly single-person applicants with an average waiting time of around three years. This deadline does not apply to non-elderly individual applicants under the quota and points system, for which applicants must accumulate sufficient points based on certain criteria, such as age at the time of application or waiting time. on request – to be entitled to a subsidized apartment.

Lantau’s Vision of Tomorrow: Hong Kong’s plan to create a new metropolis on man-made islands off Lantau Island. The 1,700-hectare reclamation project was announced in Carrie Lam’s second political speech in October 2018. It is expected to provide between 260,000 and 400,000 homes for 700,000 to 1.1 million people. Of these homes, 70 percent would be social housing, with the aim of solving the city’s land shortage problem.