From the rehousing of fire victims in the first resettlement estate in Shek Kip Mei in 1954 to the present day, trace the history of public housing in Hong Kong.
The Government appointed a Housing Commission to solve the housing problems of the low-income class. The Commission proposed to grant land at a low price for contractors to construct 200 to 300 two-storey buildings in each of the main districts. Each building, covering an area of 800 square feet per floor, was built for 30 persons. The monthly rent was to be set at $0.7 per person.
The study conducted by the Housing Commission on Hong Kong’s housing policy suggested that to help those citizens who could not afford market rent, the rent should not exceed one-fifth of the household income. The Commission’s work was halted by the war.
Large numbers of refugees flooded into Hong Kong after war from Mainland China, resulting in a squatter population of around 300,000. Hygiene conditions were poor in the densely populated squatter areas, and fires were common. Between 1950 and 1952, major blazes broke out in different squatter areas such as Lei Cheng Uk Village, Tung Tau Tsuen and Kowloon Tong Village. More than 30,000 people lost their homes.
Model Housing Estate in North Point was completed, the first low-cost housing estate built by a voluntary agency, the Hong Kong Model Housing Society.
A devastating fire broke out at the Shek Kip Mei Squatters on 25 December 1953. Over 50 000 people became homeless. After the fire, the Government constructed resettlement blocks for those homeless victims. A Commissioner for Resettlement was appointed.
The former Hong Kong Housing Authority (Housing Authority) was established to take charge of the construction and management of low-cost housing estates.
The first resettlement estate in Hong Kong was completed in Shek Kip Mei. It consisted of eight six-storey resettlement blocks (Mark I blocks).
The Government launched its low-cost housing programme, providing housing with facilities superior to those of the resettlement blocks. All flats were equipped with private kitchens, lavatories and balconies. Community facilities were also provided.
The Government released a White Paper titled Review of Policies for Squatter Control, Resettlement and Government Low-cost Housing. The Temporary Housing Scheme was launched to cater for those not immediately eligible for permanent public housing.
Wah Fu Estate was completed as the first public housing estate adopting the design concept of “comprehensive planning”. Shops, wet market and schools, among other facilities, were provided in the estate. The estate became the blueprint for the development of future housing estates. By then, public housing population already exceeded one million.
The government announced the Ten-year Housing Programme targeted to improve the living environment for 1.8 million Hong Kong residents within a decade between 1973 and 1982. The low-cost housing estates were built with self-contained kitchen and toilet in each flat.
The government re-organised public housing structure and established a new Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA) to take charge of the management of all resettlement blocks and low-cost housing estates. The Resettlement Department and the Housing Division of the Urban Services Department were amalgamated to form the Housing Department as the executive body of the HA.
The first Home Ownership Scheme (HOS) was launched to help lower-middle income families and public housing estate tenants become property owners.
Applicants HOS Phase I viewing model of HOS flat. (1978)
The Government extended the Ten-year Housing Programme by five years, to 1987.
Aerial view of Wang Fuk Court (left) and Kwong Fuk Estate in Tai Po (Photo taken in the early 1980s).
The HA approved the Housing Subsidy Policy and adjusted the housing subsidies provided to better-off tenants.
The Government released the Long Term Housing Strategy to set out the objectives of its housing policy and measures.
Mr John Todd (then Chairman of Housing Authority) and Mr Pang Yuk-ling (then Director of Housing Department) explaining the “Long Term Housing Strategy” at a press conference. (1987)
A Comprehensive Redevelopment Programme was launched to gradually demolish and redevelop 566 blocks built before 1973.
The Policy on Safeguarding Rational Allocation of Public Housing Resources was implemented. Under the Policy, better-off tenants are required to pay market rent, or even to vacate their public housing flats.
The Government issued a White Paper titled Long Term Housing Strategy to provide a blueprint for future housing policy. The HA launched the Tenants Purchase Scheme (TPS), giving tenants the opportunity to purchase the flats they lived in.
The Buy or Rent Option was introduced to facilitate eligible PRH applicants to acquire early home ownership.
1999 - 2000
In response to the incidents of sub-standard piling, an Independent Checking Unit was formed to improve the building quality of public housing flats.
The HA started to outsource the management and maintenance of its estates to property services agents.
The construction and sale of HOS flats was suspended from 2003.
In the aftermath of the SARS outbreak, a Marking Scheme was introduced to ensure public housing tenants keep their living environment clean and hygienic.
The last phase of the TPS and the Comprehensive Structural Investigation Programme were launched.
The Total Maintenance Scheme was launched to boost the quality of maintenance and repair services in PRH estates.
A new rent adjustment mechanism came into force, setting public housing rents based on the financial abilities of tenants.
The last batch of public housing blocks at Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate was demolished, marking the end of the Comprehensive Redevelopment Programme.
The Government announced the resumption of HOS in the same year.
The redevelopment of Pak Tin Estate was announced which was the first redevelopment project under the Refined Policy on Redevelopment of Aged Public Rental Housing Estates.
The Long Term Housing Strategy Steering Committee was set up to undertake a comprehensive review of the housing needs of various groups in the community.
The HA’s largest shopping centre, “Domain”, in Yau Tong, Kowloon, was officially opened in December. Domain has eight storeys and covers a total gross floor area of around 45 000 square metres, and around 150 shops.
The laundry pole holders in rental flats of PRH estates and unsold rental flats of TPS estates to be replaced with laundry racks free of charge, according to the preferences of individual tenants.
At the end of 2014
The first batch of around 2 200 new HOS flats, scheduled to be completed in 2016/17, was launched for pre-sale at the end of 2014.
2015 - 16
The 176 300 old see-through type collapsible gates in PRH estates and unsold units of TPS estates to be replaced in a five-year programme starting in 2015/16.
The implementation details of the Green Form Subsidised Home Ownership Pilot Scheme was endorsed in May.
Following claims that the fresh water supply to Kai Ching Estate contained excessive lead, a series of response measures were taken that included conducting water sampling tests, replacing relevant plumbing parts, suppling bottled water, and providing standpipes for residents. A review committee was also formed to investigate the issue.
The HA’s Review Committee on Quality Assurance Issues Relating to Fresh Water Supply of Public Housing Estates submitted its Final Report and recommendations. Rectification work to replace non-compliant water pipes in the common areas and individual units of the 11 PRH estates affected by excessive lead in drinking water began in phases from March.
From April 2017, laundry rods were added to all PRH flats in appropriate block types by phases.
Upon reviewing the Interim Scheme to Extend the HOS Secondary Market to White Form Buyers, it was regularised to become the White Form Secondary Market Scheme (WSM).
The first mobile application for PRH tenants, iHousing app was launched. The first phase of the app covered rent enquiry and payment services.
Upon reviewing the Green Form Subsidised Home Ownership Scheme (GSH) pilot project, it became a regularised scheme.
The plan to include about 800 recovered flats from estates under the TPS in the Sale of GSH Scheme Flats 2020/21 was announced.
Swiftly finished the conversion work of three newly completed PRH blocks of Queens Hill Estate and Lai King Estate as community isolation Facilities.