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Queuing system seen as fix in race for homes

A queuing system should be established for people who apply to buy subsidized housing, architecture-sector lawmaker Tony Tse Wai-chuen said.

Under the current system, eligible candidates need to enter a lottery to determine their priority to buy and choose flats.

Due to oversubscription, many people repeatedly failed to get a flat and had to go through the monotonous application procedure and lottery process year after year.

Yesterday, Tse called on the government to study the feasibility of establishing a waiting list mechanism for applications regarding public housing so as “to ignite the hopes” of persistent applicants.

He also suggested banning all newly-built subsidized housing from being resold to the private sector in order to ensure people don’t tout the flats for money.

Instead, subsidized flat owners should be made to sell the properties back to the government or Housing Authority at a price that is equal to the sum of the original selling price and the percentage increase of property prices, he said.

He also recommended lowering the maximum income limit for the Starter Homes Scheme and to relaunch the Sandwich Class Housing Scheme introduced by the colonial government.

These measures will help middle-class families with monthly incomes between HK$74,100 and HK$93,000 to buy flats, he said.

He said his suggestions are not aimed at bringing down the private property market, as it would adversely affect people if it were to collapse.

“If the government can help those who don’t have enough money to buy homes in the private property market, that would be a big motivation for society,” he said.

To alleviate the financial burden of those who have to rent in private housing estates, Tse urged the government to grant them tax allowances capped at HK$100,000 per person annually.

When asked about his estimation of the surplus for the upcoming budget next month, Tse said he expects it to be slightly more than HK$40 billion.

However, he also believes that “the sweeteners will not be very sweet.”

The government’s income mainly stems from land sales and property tax, but the former failed to meet expectations last year, he said.

Despite this, he hopes the government will lend a helping hand to citizens while it still has a surplus.