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Public Housing Goes Green
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Shanghai residents living in "public houses" can expect to enjoy more green space in their communities this year, one of the environmental-friendly goals the city vows to achieve in its bid to join the list of "Garden City" in the country.

"Public houses" are apartments that were bought or built by companies and allotted to employees before the 1990s in a housing welfare system, which has been phased out. The majority of the houses were built before the 1990s, and the environment is poor with little green space.

"Only 5 percent of the land in some old communities are covered with trees, while the green space coverage reaches 36 percent in newly built residential projects," said Hu Yunhua, director of the Shanghai Gardening Administrative Bureau.

The city government will invest 25 million yuan (US$3 million) to plant more trees and grass in the old communities, ensuring 20 percent of the land is green space.

To be a "Garden City," 35 percent of a metropolis' public land should be covered with green plants, while per capita green space should be 7 square meters, which the city has already achieved. The city's green coverage rate was just 30 percent until last year.

However, money is still needed for daily maintenance in the old communities. Residents currently pay about four to seven yuan a month as property management fee, which was set in 1996. But it is "too little to improve the environment," said the Office of Shanghai Public Housing Management yesterday.

In comparison, those who live in privately owned housing have to pay more than 100 yuan a month.

( June 6, 2003)

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