Single people who wish to apply for subsidised flats at the Kai Tak De Novo development may now only be considered if their total monthly household income does not exceed HK$33,500. Applicants must also have a net asset value of under HK$1.5m, the Urban Renewal Authority announced after a special board of directors meeting on Tuesday.

The move marks yet another change in the URA’s policy after its original monthly income limit of HK$60,000 for single people attracted widespread criticism. Non-executive director Wu Chi-wai had said that those who earned that amount belonged to the high income group, thus the URA had no reason to subsidise them.

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Artist Impression of De Novo. Photo: Stand News.

The De Novo consists of four blocks and 484 flats in total. It is located at Kai Tak to the west of Tak Long Estate and is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

In July, the URA said that 338 of the flats will be sold as subsidised units at 80 percent of the market price, and that they will only be offered to couples and families. However, in November the URA announced a U-turn in policy, allowing single people to apply for the flats and setting the monthly income upper limit at HK$60,000.

victor so
Victor So Hing-woh.

URA Chairperson Victor So Hing-woh said that, after seeking a legal opinion, the URA believed that there would be a lower risk of litigation if they accepted applications by singletons. This was following a complaint and an inquiry by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), which pointed out that it could be against anti-discrimination laws to bar single people from purchasing subsidised housing.

For households of two people or above, the monthly income and the net asset value upper limit will remain at HK$60,000 and HK$3 million respectively.

dennis kwok
Dennis Kwok. Photo: Wikicommons.

Dennis Kwok Wing-hang, non-executive director at the URA, said that – prior to the board of directors meeting on Tuesday – managing director Daniel Lam Chun sent a mass email criticising the four legislative councillors who were on the board. Lam said that the disputes over the De Novo policies were an internal matter and that bringing it to the attention of the public and the media was “political pollution”. Lam also compared it to the academic freedom controversy at the University of Hong Kong.

Kwok told RTHK that the email was inappropriate and that the reason legislative councillors were on the board was so that they could reflect the views of the public. It was not, as Lam said, to politicise the incident.

Another non-executive director, Ann Chiang Lai-wan, said that the two incidents should not be compared. She also said that at the meeting, Lam apologised for the way he handled the whole affair.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.