The Housing Authority’s Subsidised Housing Committee has passed a policy to tighten measures against well-off tenants occupying public housing units, chairman of the committee Stanley Wong Yuen-fai has announced.

Stanley Wong Yuen-fai.

Under the current policy, tenants are considered “super rich” if their monthly income is three times the limit and their total net assets 84 times the limit. They are required to move out within a year while paying full rent at market price during the rest of their stay.

The new policy will raise the upper limit for both the incomes and total net assets of “super rich” tenants. But tenants will have to move out if either their income or assets exceed the upper limit, or if they own a flat in Hong Kong. The upper limit for income will be raised to five times the limit, and the upper limit for their assets raised to 100 times the limit.

The new policy – announced Friday – will be effective from October 1, 2017.

Longer consultation period

“It is problematic that the policy has to be rolled out so hastily without evaluating its effectiveness,” lawmaker Wong Kwok-kin said on an RTHK radio show on Friday.

Wong, who is also a member of the Subsidised Housing Committee, said he hoped the government can delay the implementation of the new policy, so that they will have more time to really consider its affects, decide how to deal with special cases, and set up a system for appeal.

“We hope that the Housing Authority can provide us with some figures that shows an estimate of the number of flats that can be vacated under the new policy,” Wong said.

Wong Kwok-kin. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

Households whose members are all above the age of 60 are exempted from the new measures.

If a retiree receives a large sum of money after retirement that puts the family over the asset upper limit, but none of their family members were over 60, “would this family be exempted from moving out?” Wong asked. “It would be unfair to forcefully make them leave.”

Concern group protesting outside the venue of the Subsidised Housing Committee meeting. Photo: Now TV screenshot.

Groups concerned about the issue protested outside the venue of the committee meeting. They suspected that the policy was rolled out to divert attention away from the fact that the Housing Authority was unable to meet the target of cutting the waiting time for public housing down to three years. Protesters also criticised the Housing Authority for not conducting public consultation prior to rolling out the policy, echoing Wong’s concerns.

Stanley Leung

Stanley is a Media and Communications graduate from Goldsmiths College in London. He takes particular interest in visual journalism, having produced photographic and video work on a number of social and political issues. He has also interned at the current affairs service of RTHK’s TV division.