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ZHENGZHOU - At a time when China's housing prices are beyond the reach of most prospective homeowners, low-income housing has not received the warm welcome authorities expected..
The audit office of Henan province recently said that over half of the low-rent houses in the province's six cities remain empty.
The six cities have built 16,000 low-rent housing units, 8,215 of which are empty, or 51.3 percent of the total.
The provincial capital of Zhengzhou began receiving applications for 1,551 public rental housing units last December but has received only 362 applications, according to the local government.
In recent years, central and local governments have been investing in low-income housing to satisfy the needs of low-income families.
The government has vowed to build 36 million affordable housing units during the 2011-2015 period. In 2011, it started construction on 10 million units.
However, supplies of low-income housing seem to have surpassed demand in many places around the country, including the provinces of Guangdong, Hubei and Hebei.
Henan government officials said the unpopularity of low-income housing can be attributed to a lack of supporting facilities and their remote locations.
The Zhujiangrongjing residential area is one of the most unpopular low-income housing complexes in Zhengzhou. The houses are located on the outskirts of the city and residents have to rely on primary schools and clinics in two nearby villages, since there is little transportation linking the residential area with downtown Zhengzhou.
In the Shangdonghuayuan residential area, another low-income housing complex in Zhengzhou, residents said there is only one bus line near the residential area, adding that the neighborhood is noisy and dirty due to the close proximity of construction sites.
Experts said some local governments chose to build the low-income housing in remote areas and sell more appealing locations to real estate developers to boost fiscal revenues.
Zhao Jinjing, vice president of a real estate business association in Henan, said low-income housing built by property developers has been more popular than that built by the government, as the developers build housing according to market needs.
"Therefore, the government should consider marketizing the low-income housing project and adopting some preferential policies, such as reducing taxes, to encourage developers to build more low-income houses," Zhao said.
The provincial audit office of Henan said there are flaws in the distribution of low-income housing, as some people fabricate credentials in order to qualify for buying or renting the properties.
Experts said the government should make greater efforts to assess local residents' incomes and current housing conditions before building and distributing low-income housing.