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Migrant workers in Dalian benefit, too
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-02-19 00:48

Pi Guojin, 38, counts himself lucky to find a place in Dalian, Northeast China's Liaoning Province, he can call home -- even though it is 220 kilometres from where his family lives.

"I'm fortunate because I now share an apartment which has heating with eight migrants," says Pi, who has been selling lighting equipment in the coastal city for eight years. His jobless wife and 10-year-old child live in Yingkou, another port city in Liaoning.

Pi had braved chilly winters in shabby sheds like many of the country's migrants; sometimes, he would find himself carrying quilts and luggage, desperately trying to find shelter.

His apartment in Ganjingzi District, Dalian, is among 34 special places designated for migrants. "The rent here is only 100 yuan (US$12) per month," he says.

Like Pi, thousands of migrants are benefiting because the local government is trying to ensure them the same living conditions as locals.

Vice-mayor Sun Guangtian says that about 17 per cent of the city's 700,000 migrants have been housed with the help of the local government.

The apartments used to be vacant premises owned by the government and State-owned enterprises.

"I was impressed by the example set by Dalian because the migrants' quality of life has improved significantly with safe and relatively-comfortable living quarters," Yuan Chongfa, vice-president of the China Centre for Town Reform and Reform, tells China Daily.

He calls on the government to make home ownership more affordable to migrants.

But Pi says that's not easy to buy an apartment.

"Even though the policy has allowed me to be a regular urban resident and buy a home, my income doesn't allow me to do so," he says.

In the city, an average apartment costs at least 200,000 yuan (US$24,000), but migrant workers' annual income averages only 5,000-6,000 yuan (US$602-722).

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