Hong Kong | 4-9, 24-29 September 2017
In September 2017, GIFT's third Hong Kong Young Leaders Programme, over twenty young leaders from across Hong Kong society — government, civil society, and business — were brought together to help solve Hong Kong's "primary livelihood concern": its lack of affordable housing. Over a month of site visits, stakeholder meetings, research and planning sessions, participants created a set of strategic recommendations to improve access to affordable and high-quality homes throughout the city.
Housing in Hong Kong is the city’s single most important policy concern. Hong Kong recently became the most unaffordable major housing market in the world – it would take a skilled service worker 18.5 years to afford a 60 square-meter apartment near the city center.
According to government projections, the overall housing demand will reach one million units by 2046, requiring an overall land supply of 1,670 hectares (around 1.5% of the total land area of Hong Kong).
Hong Kong, unlike most major cities, has a large amount of public housing. Approximately half of Hong Kong's population currently rents or owns an apartment constructed by the government. Such housing was built in the 1960s in response to a housing crisis, caused by an influx of migrants from Mainland China.
Hong Kong has not constructed any major new public housing projects since the early 2000s. Waiting lists for public housing can extend for over five years, leaving people to rely on an expensive private market.
The Hong Kong government set a five-year target to construct 140,000 public housing units, but is unlikely to achieve that target. Based on the land currently earmarked for public housing, there will still be a shortage of 44,000 public housing units.
"My view is that housing is not a commodity – it is an important livelihood issue. 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."
- Chief Executive Carrie Lam to the Asia-Pacific Housing Forum.
(Photo credit: GovHK)
DISTINGUISHED GUEST SPEAKERS
Convenor of the Non-Official Members of the Hong Kong Executive Committee
Chairman of Link Asset Management Ltd.
Founder of Light Be
Senior Editor at the South China Morning Post
Land and Planning Consultant; Adjunct Professor to the Real Estate and Construction Department at The University of Hong Kong
Seeing the housing issue firsthand
Participants visited several important stakeholders throughout the Hong Kong Young Leaders Programme, including relevant government and statuatory bodies, civil society organisations, property developers and occupants of subdivided homes.
Participants visited a current redevelopment project by the Urban Renewal Authority, a profit-making statuatory body that redevelops urban land in Hong Kong into integrated residential and commercial properties.
The group visited the village of Wang Chau. The area had been highlighted for development into public housing, yet unused brownfield sites nearby were left alone. Controversy over the issue pushed the government to start a comprehensive study of brownfields.
The programme also visited social organisations and neighborhood activists in some of Hong Kong's poorest districts. One growing issue are illegally sub-divided homes, which offer lower rents but cram several families into an apartment designed for one.
Participants visit a resource center designed to showcase arrangements for elderly living. Hong Kong, like most other developed world populations, is rapidly aging, and so homes are increasingly being designed to better help the old live independently.
working towards a solution
The HKYLP uses real-world field projects to hone the practical skills needed to manage diverse teams in unfamiliar situations. Through meetings with government, community and business leaders, and through frank and open discussions amongst themselves, participants learn to navigate conflicting and contradictory views to transform concepts and theories into realities on the ground.
Participants created a set of strategic recommendations on how to improve access to affordable homes throughout Hong Kong, focusing on five areas: unlocking land supply, controlling construction costs, market-side mechanisms, housing quality and institutional changes.
Below are a few slides from the presentation delivered by participants.
Every Young Leaders Programme ends with a public forum, where participants present highlights from their output to an audience of local leaders, businesspeople, government officials, representatives from NGOs and international agencies, and students.
(Photo #1 credit: Xiaomei Chen, for the South China Morning Post)
in the media
From relocating Hong Kong’s main container port to scrapping a small-house policy, some 2.8 million flats – six times the government’s target for 10 years from now – could be built, a group of local young leaders has claimed.
From "Hong Kong can build 2.8 million flats if land freed up, group claims," September 29th, 2017
Ample land in Hong Kong exists to address the issue, but it must be freed by policy interventions.
From "Difficult leadership decisions needed to resolve Hong Kong’s housing conundrum", October 9th, 2017
The Hong Kong Young Leaders Programme was featured on ViuTV's weekly news roundup, "The Weekly Re-Viu" on October 8th, 2017.