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The housing crisis in Hong Kong, a city with expensive skyscrapers, is on the rise. Custom houses in Hong Kong are also sold for millions of dollars. Even parking lots cost tens of millions of dollars. But there are at least two lakh people in this city who applied for subsidized flats more than five years ago and their stay is not over.
The general image of Hong Kong is that of a city of rich people, but around 20 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. Such people spend day and night surrounded inside the same house. It is often said that these people live in cages. Britain returned Hong Kong to Communist China in 1997. But there has been no change in the condition of the poor people despite the change of regime here.
The population of Hong Kong is more than 7 million. Officials say that the number of people coming and settling here has increased rapidly in recent decades, so they have not been able to supply houses according to demand. Because of this many people have to live in shanties. Last year, the Chinese government Xi Jinping ordered the local administration to solve the housing problem. Afterwards John Lee, the city’s chief executive officer, announced plans to build 30,000 houses in five years.
But critics have cast doubt on the completion of the plan. According to him, the local government depends on land auctions, sales and taxes. About 20 percent of its annual revenue comes from this. As such, it has its own self-interest in limiting the land supply. As long as this situation continues, Hong Kong’s housing problem cannot be solved.
According to experts, the strict policies adopted in Hong Kong to control the Corona epidemic during the last three years have deepened the questions on the intentions of the administration. During that time, large quarantine camps were established, so that thousands of patients could be isolated. Now those places are empty. Councilor Paul Zimmerman from the Southern District of Hong Kong told the American television channel CNN – ‘Now the question is what to do with these camps.’
According to the city’s secretary of finance, an amount equivalent to US $ 76 billion was spent on the construction of these quarantine camps. The government immediately arranged for 80 hectares of land to establish these camps, and within months 40,000 units were built. Now the experts raise the question why the government has not done the same thing to solve the housing problem as it showed then?
Speaking to CNN, Brian Wong, an expert with the local think tank Lieber Research Community, accused the government of holding on to the housing problem because of a vested interest in land revenue. He said that the housing problem is the result of an administrative structure based on bureaucracy, which does not seem to be possible to solve in a meaningful way at the moment.