Award-winning Nanjing to spend $4b on new housing
By Xie Yu (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-11-05 10:46

Nanjing will spend another 30 billion yuan ($4.41 billion) to renovate 3 million sq m of dilapidated residential areas before the end of 2010, a government spokesman said yesterday.

Huang Chang'an, the spokesman for the Nanjing real estate administrative bureau, said an additional 1.08 billion yuan will go to the low-rent housing system, and that 6 million sq m of affordable apartments will be built before the end of 2010.

The measures were announced after Nanjing won the top UN Habitat award at the ongoing World Urban Forum in the city.

It was recognized for effort and achievement renovating the Qinhuai River and settlements along it.

Huang said that although the real estate market is affected by the global financial crisis, the government will make sure investment in building affordable housing and renovating old and poor residential areas will not fall.

Since 2002, Nanjing has been committed to renovating the Qinhuai River, a waterway of enchanting scenery and great cultural heritage but seriously polluted by factories and squatter settlements since the 1980s, he said.

The local government has spent billions cleaning a 23-km stretch of the river, relocating more than 6,000 squatter families and 159 riverside factories, thereby returning a pleasant living environment to existing neighborhoods.

Qi Ji, vice-minister of construction, said on Monday that the State had renovated about 50 million sq m of squatter settlements and improved living conditions for nearly 1 million families in the past few years.

Squatter settlements have become a worldwide problem as large rural populations have migrated to increasingly crowded cities for better living conditions, Anna Tibaijuka, vice-secretary of the UN, also the executive director with the UN Habitat, said.

China is "doing rather well in tackling the slum problem" by introducing many effective policies such as the provision of affordable housing and giving people housing subsidies, she said.

"It shows what an important role leadership and policies play in ensuring equality. We cannot completely depend on market forces," she said.

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