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Who have access to affordable housing?
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Following a latest rise of threshold to affordable housing to low-income residents in many big cities and an nearly crazy hike of commercial housing prices nationwide in China, the country's moderate income families are witnessing their worst ever hard time, as they neither match the criteria for low-income housing nor can easily afford price-rocketing commercial housing.

According to a recent survey, jointly launched by China's Youth Daily and the famous Chinese portal website, 87.4% of the 1,676 survey respondents highly believe that affordable housing should give equal access to both middle and low income families, while 81.2% says they are not satisfied with the latest increased threshold for affordable homes and consider it too much strict, the China Youth Daily reported Monday morning.

Beijing released a latest version of its criteria for purchasing affordable housing for low-income residents early this November. The criteria stipulates that qualified low-income people are those with a yearly family income of 22, 700 yuan, 36,300 yuan, 45,300 yuan, 52,900 yuan and 60,000 yuan for 1 to 5 people respectively, and a domestic equity lower than 240, 000 yuan, 270, 000 yuan, 360,000 yuan, 450,000 yuan and 480,000 yuan, respectively.

In comparison, the threshold five years ago for affordable housing went to households with an annual income lower than 60, 000 yuan.

East China's Hangzhou city also issued new housing policy this September and excluded people with middle income from getting affordable housing.

Among the surveyed, 95.3% also complained about the scarcity of affordable housing, which many others believe have added up to the further going-up of threshold for affordable housing and the faster rise of commercial housing prices around the country.

Concerning the new criteria for affordable housing, some show their understanding while others are skeptical, saying those who can afford the houses are not qualified to buy while those are qualified to buy still can not afford it.

A lot more pointed out a more cruel reality that, for some reason a large part of the affordable housing are occupied by people with high incomes.

In 1998 when the Chinese government first issued its policy on affordable housing, both high-income and low-income groups accounted for an equally 10% of China's urban population, while the rest 80% are people with middle to low incomes. Therefore, here comes the big question: what are the people in this large group suppose to do if they are not given access to affordable housing?

(CRI November 26, 2007)

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