Shanghai¡¯s subsidized housing programs moving forward

Shanghai's subsidized housing programs for middle- and low-income households have begun to bear fruit, local officials announced at a press conference Wednesday.

The local government has begun construction on about 750,000 housing units since the central government launched its subsidized housing initiative in 2008, said Liu Haisheng, director of the Shanghai Municipal Housing Support and Building Administration Bureau.

The units are being built for the city's low-rent housing, affordable housing, public housing and relocation housing programs.

As of the end of last month, about 92,000 households have qualified for the city's low-rent housing program, which was designed for low-income households, according to a press release issued at the press conference.

The local government has loosened the program's standards six times since 2006 so more families can qualify. Currently, a household with a 1,600 yuan ($255) per capita dispensable monthly income and 50,000 yuan in per capita assets is eligible.

About 32,000 middle- to low-income households acquired an apartment through the city's affordable housing program.

The local government launched a public housing initiative in September 2010 to provide homes for non-local residents who work in Shanghai. Some 12,000 flats have been rented under the program this year.     

Relocated residents have purchased 41,600 apartments at prices limited by the local government under the city's relocation housing project.

Liu acknowledged that the subsidized housing programs continue to face challenges, especially concerning the location of the new homes.

"Many subsidizing housing projects are far from downtown, which is not only inconvenient to commuters, but also adds to the cost of construction," he said.

Local subsidized housing programs have made use of about 270,000 square meters of land in the city. The municipal government announced last year that at least five percent of land the government sells for commercial housing development must be used for subsidized housing.

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