Affordable housing for low-income earners

Updated: 2011-01-26 11:08


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BEIJING -- A primary school student wrote to the mayor of Nanjing city, east China's Jiangsu province, seeking help in applying for a low-rent housing unit, and her dream has come true.

The 11-year old primary school girl was named Wang Yuan. She and her mother moved into their new house Tuesday.

The 40 square-meter low-rent house costs Wang's family 22.9 yuan ($3.48) each month with the government's assistance, according to a report by the Yangtze Evening Post.

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Sun Lijuan, Wang Yuan's mother, lost her husband to liver cancer three years ago. Although Sun sold her original house to raise money for the treatment of her husband, she still faced a debt of 170,000 yuan when her husband was gone, according to the report.

Sun has rented a 10 square meter room since then, which cost her 400 yuan a month at first and then increased to 600 yuan per month, she said.

The increasing rent might have been the last straw for the family, had they not received government assistance for the low-rent housing.

However, Wang Yuan's family is not alone in asking for such help.

With the process of China's urbanization, the demand for affordable housing has witnessed an explosive growth, said Gao Bo, director of the Real Estate Research Center affiliated with Nanjing University.

Experts forecast another 400 million people from the country's rural areas will live in cities within 20 years, posing a great challenge for the government to address the issue of residential housing.

Low-income residents in many regions who cannot afford housing are queuing for affordable homes provided by the government, Gao said.

In 2011, Jiangsu province will start to build 135,000 units of affordable housing, said Pan Yonghe, head of the province's finance department.

Besides Jiangsu province, efforts have been made all across China to build affordable housing.

For instance, north China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region plans to build over 400,000 units of affordable housing this year, half of the last five years' total number. Northern Shanxi Province will construct 280,000 units, one-third of the last five years' total number, among others.

Altogether, China plans to build 10 million units of affordable housing in 2011, a sharp increase from last year's 5.9 million units, according to the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD).

In the proposed 12th Five-Year Program (2011-2015) by Chinese authorities, the country stressed that additional efforts would be undertaken to construct more affordable houses in order to increase the housing supply to middle and low-income residents.

Such steps will surely help to realize the housing dreams of middle and low-income residents, Gao said.

The MOHURD said the central government had allocated 133.6 billion yuan for affordable housing projects during the past five years. Currently, nearly 15 million urban families are living in affordable housing, compared with 329,000 households with the lowest income in China which had access to low-rent houses at the end of 2005.

Government statistics showed earlier this month that home prices in 70 major Chinese cities jumped 6.4 percent year on year in December last year, after a 7.7 percent surge in November.


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