Guangdong low-cost housing falls short

By Zheng Caixiong (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-01-22 11:04
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GUANGZHOU - Some departments and cities in South China's Guangdong province have been criticized for failing to build sufficient affordable housing for the province's low-income residents.

At the current session of the provincial legislature, deputies of Guangdong Provincial People's Congress questioned whether the government had aimed too high with its goal of building more than 150,000 affordable apartments in three years from 2009.

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Many cities in Guangdong completed less than 30 percent of the affordable housing they aimed to build last year, according to China Business News.

Only 8,000 low-cost apartments were built in the province in 2008.

Nationwide, local governments have been less than enthusiastic about constructing subsidized housing in recent years, because such projects require them to supply potentially lucrative land for free.

Peng Peng, a researcher with the Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences, said some local cities in Guangdong did not pay enough attention to the issue.

"There is not enough of a driving force (to build affordable housing)," Peng told China Business News.

"Government should include affordable housing in their work reports, so it can be reviewed by the local people's congress and supervised by the public," Peng said.

A proposal at the continuing session of the Guangdong Provincial Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) revealed that shortages of funds and land contributed to local governments' poor performance in providing residences for disadvantaged groups.

The proposal, sent by the Guangdong provincial committee of the Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League, gave the example of Shenzhen, where only 20,000 low-cost apartments have been built, compared with its goal of having more than 169,000 completed between 1996 and 2010.

In Guangzhou, the provincial capital, only 26.5 percent of 2010's targeted investment for affordable housing has been met.

"In addition to the shortage of funds, it's a headache to seek land for the construction of affordable housing in Guangzhou," said Su Zequn, the city's executive vice-mayor .

Li Junfu, director of Guangzhou bureau of land and housing management, said Guangzhou had planned to invest more than 8 billion yuan ($1.2 billion) in building affordable housing in 2011, but there was a large hole in their funding.

To solve this problem the Guangzhou government has planned to open multiple channels for financing the program this year, Li added.

Li Wenjiang, an analyst with the Guangzhou-based Hopefluent Group Holdings Ltd, said many property developers lack the motivation to build affordable housing because of low profits.