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More public housing needed

By Zhang Zhouxiang | China Daily | Updated: 2013-07-26 09:56

Zhang also said that the demand is roughly double the supply in rental market, while a survey of on-line agency shows that the gap between the price required by house owners and expected by tenants is narrowing; in other words, tenants have increasingly less bargaining power in the market. The rent for every square meter, as the website shows, has risen from 52.34 yuan from one year ago to 60.74 yuan this June.

As a result, those whose income is below average have no choice other than sharing an apartment, even with quite a number of people in some areas with high rent.

There is no confirmed data on the living conditions of group tenants, but a report jointly released by the municipal government and Beijing University of Technology on July 2, found that the average living space of non-local residents was 5.6 square meters. The number of people affected by the new regulation if it is strictly implemented, will be significant.

Therefore, a simple ban alone will not put an end to group renting as for some there is no other option. More measures are needed to help tenants who will be chased out of cheap housing without any other place to go.

As it is not possible to raise the average wage or lower rents significantly, Beijing needs to offer more public housing. For a long time, they were accessible only to those with a local hukou, or local residence registration.

Only one-tenth of fresh graduates have a local hukou.

Even after a regulation in December 2011 made public housing available to those without a local residence registration, the requirements are often prohibitive to those just entering the work force. In Shijingshan district, for example, one has to work within the district for five consecutive years to be able to apply for a public apartment.

The government needs to open the public housing market more and build more housing for low-income residents. It should also offer subsidies to those in need. Preventing people from group renting without offering any alternative will only lead to shanty towns. After all, people need somewhere to live.

The author is a writer with China Daily.


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