It is neither realistic nor reasonable to expect that commercial housing can be the sole way to guarantee that all residents have their own homes. The ever soaring housing prices make it a pie in the sky for those low-income residents and those who rely on basic-living allowances from the government to buy houses on their own.
For this reason, the central government in 1999 introduced a policy requiring governments at various levels to use a certain percentage of income from land transfers for commercial housing to build low-rent housing for low-income families.
This is a realistic way to solve the housing problem for low-income residents and it is also the responsibility of governments at various levels to provide cheap housing for the poor.
But the construction area of such housing is so small that most low-income residents fail to have such houses to rent.
The new policy introduced by the State Council in August this year makes it quite clear that it is an important work of local governments to guarantee low-rent housing for low-income residents. The central authorities have reiterated time and again that governments at various levels must do whatever they can to solve the housing problems of their residents.
To be honest, some localities have done a great deal in this regard. The announcement by the Beijing municipal government yesterday that low-rent housing will be constructed along with three commercial housing projects sets a good example for the rest of the country.
Along with the construction of more low-rent housing, the Beijing municipal government also announced that government subsidies to low-income families for house rents would be increased by 10 yuan ($1.3) per square meter.
What is noteworthy is the requirement for the construction of low-rent housing that such houses must be well equipped with whatever is necessary to make life convenient for their occupants although their living area is relatively smaller than commercial housing.
We see a ray of hope from what Beijing has done - low-income residents will be able to have decent homes of their own.
(China Daily November 22, 2007)