Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng has told lawmakers that housing is one of the government’s top priorities.
Ho said yesterday that construction has begun on a housing project for senior citizens which is expected to be completed by 2023 when it will be handed over to the Social Welfare Bureau which will then allocate the rental units.
Examples of the project’s one- and two-bedroom units will be unveiled this summer. The project is aimed at financially-independent senior citizens currently living in walk-ups.
Senior citizens already living in retirement homes, or in other kinds of housing equipped with lifts, are not eligible to apply to live in the new housing complex, said Ho, adding that the Social Housing Bureau is assessing how much rent should be charged, The Macau Post Daily reported.
Turning to the “sandwich class” – people not quite able to get on the first step of the housing ladder – Ho said that following the publication of the results of a public consultation the government could begin preparing land resources for such a project. He added that the government intended to announce its Urban Master Plan by the end of this year, so that detailed zoning plans could be made accordingly, and relevant studies on land zoned for residential purposes could be conducted.
Ho said the government policy also covered private housing. Once zoning plans have been made in line with the Urban Master Plan, the government intends to allocate a number of plots for public auction, in order for developers to build commercial or residential buildings.
The chief executive also announced that construction contracts for several home-ownership scheme (HOS) complexes, to be developed on five plots of land in New Urban Area Zone A, would be put up for public bidding soon. An application process regarding allocation of more than 5,000 units of HOS housing in Zone A is due to open in the second half this year. This will be the first application round for subsidised housing since the amendment to the Law on Home-Ownership Scheme Housing, Ho noted. The government is planning to open an application process for allocation of another 5,000 HOS units next year.
As for public housing, Ho said that as the revised proposal of the public housing project in Avenida de Wai Long would offer 2,000 fewer units than the original proposal, the government would aim to identify land resources elsewhere to build those 2,000 units.
He insisted that the government had no intention of decreasing the supply of public housing, but rather wanted to offer citizens bigger flats.
He added that the demand for subsidised housing in Macao was yet to be determined, and the development of the private-housing sector, which makes up 70 per cent of the local housing market, had to be taken into account, in order to avoid the risk of negative equity for property owners.
Show flats in the subsidised housing projects on lots T1, T2, and T3, in New Urban Area Zone A, would be unveiled in June or July, so that the public could see the quality of public housing provided under the new law, Ho said.