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Problems With Public Housing Push
Summary:According to a new report, there are serious problems with China's push to construct millions of new low-cost houses.

August 10, 2012
Translated by Zhang Dian

China's push to rapidly expand the stock of public housing has encountered numerous problems, according to a new report produced by a research center operating under China's State Council.

The China Development Research Foundation (中国发展研究基金会) published the report into low-income housing and urbanization on Aug 7.

The report listed four main problems facing China's public housing push - a lack of top-level policy design, a disconnect between supply and demand, a lack of impetus on behalf of local governments and management flaws.

The team that authored the report recently went to places like Liaoning, Sichuan and Guangxi to conduct field research.

Ping Xinqiao (平新乔),a professor at Peking University's School of Economics who contributed to the report, said his greatest concern was that given the "Great Leap Forward" approach to public housing construction, as few as half of the low-income houses are really serving a welfare purpose.

This observation is based on his research in places such as Shenyang, Tangshan, Jiaozuo, Kaifeng and Chongqing.

When interviewed by China Securities Times, professor Ping said that "Of the public houses constructed last year, we found that at least half of the number of low-income housing that local governments reported as being completed were actually those constructed for the employees of state-owned enterprises or other companies, this is due to a lack of capital at the local level to fund the construction of public housing."    

Zhang Xueqin (张学勤),the vice director of a bureau responsible for public housing under The Ministry of Housing and Urban-rural Development, was recently quoted as saying that 30 million households, close to 100 million people, had received assitance from the low-income housing by end of 2011. Zhang said that 26.5 million households had been offered housing and another 4.5 million households had been provided with financial support.

But doubts have arisen as to whether all these 30 million households are really low-income households.

Ren Xingzhou (任兴洲), director of Market Economy Research Institute at the State Council (国务院发展研究中心市场经济研究所), thinks that China's public housing policy lacks a long-term perspective.

"We have tried many different approaches over the years, but now we need to settle down and stick to the appropriate one."

Ren also said that failure to establish a nationwide housing information network is making it harder to manage the country’s housing stock.

China starting building 10 million subsidized apartments last year and aims to complete 36 million apartments over the coming five years.

Links and Sources
China Securities Journal: 争鸣保障房监管:半数以上实为福利分房

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