A new scheme for local first-time home buyers will be announced during Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s first policy address in October, Lam said on Tuesday. She said it will not use existing land resources allocated for public housing.

“Those who own property should not be able to qualify for the scheme,” she said after a housing forum on Wednesday. The scheme was part of her election manifesto.

“You can imagine that those we hope to help are relatively young families – they have completed their studies, they are working, their income may be quite good, but they cannot immediately purchase a property in the private market, because prices in the private market have been rising too fast.”

Carrie Lam. Photo: GovHK.

Lam said the scheme will provide a mid-point in the housing ladder for families, allowing them to own a flat before they enter the private market at a later point.

“The size, the design and decoration [of the flats] may be rather simple and practical,” she said.

“My view is that housing is not a commodity – it is an important livelihood issue,” she added. “If you see housing as a commodity to flip on the market, this is not the government’s function – the government’s function is to provide an opportunity for people to settle down.”

Lam said the scheme will not make use of land that is already allocated to existing housing schemes, since the government has not fulfilled its long-term goal of finding land for 460,000 flats over the next ten years. Of these, 280,000 were designated as public housing, whilst the rest were designated as private housing flats.

“We will try not to use those [allocated to public housing],” she said.

The ‘Starter Home’ scheme proposed by Carrie Lam. Photo: Carrie Lam election manifesto.

The new Task Force on Land Supply, appointed by Lam in April, will meet on Wednesday afternoon. Lam will attend the meeting.

Lam also said her election manifesto mentioned that she would consider land sources including reclaimed land, outskirts of country parks, brownfield sites, redeveloped urban land, and land held by private developers.

The Concerning Grassroots’ Housing Rights Alliance protested outside the venue of the housing forum on Wednesday, calling for more public housing. The protesters displayed placards detailing the difficulties of obtaining housing for grassroots citizens, but security guards locked the doors to separate Lam and the protesters at one point.

Lam did not respond to questions regarding Hong Kong independence banners at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.