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Policy to Upgrade Housing for Shanghai's Poor

Housing conditions in nine districts and counties are to be improved, following the recent implementation of a policy that aims to upgrade the living conditions of poor families.

The city has declared that it is fully dedicated to implementing a policy that could result in cheaper rented accommodation and will shape a comprehensive social security framework by improving housing conditions.

Under the policy, poor families in particular will be able to rent houses at lower prices. Such families will also be entitled to different allowances from local governments.

Huangpu, Jing'an, Jinshan, Songjiang, Qingpu, Jiading, Nanhui, Fengxian and Chongming have all been asked to carry out the new housing policy.

"It is vital for such a densely-populated metropolis to maintain sound development and social stability," said Cai Yutian, director of Shanghai Housing, Land & Resources Administration Bureau.

A family with a living area of less than 5 square metres and with a monthly income of less than 280 yuan (US$34) per person are considered poor, and will be able to benefit from the cheap-rent policy.

To change the appalling situation, the municipal government has been taking steps to rectify the increasing problem. By 1999, around 120,000 households had received help in finding living space of more than 4 square metres per person, Cai said.

By the end of 2000, the city's per capita living space was 10 square metres. However, Shanghai is estimated to have 7,100 particularly poor families waiting to find alternative and better living conditions.

Under the new policy initiated at grassroots levels late last year, residents will have two choices. First, they can pay rent money directly to the government who will then give them a bigger apartment. Or, residents can receive rent money directly and choose their own living quarters.

By the end of October, in the first 10 trial districts, 2,221 households applied for cheap houses, but only 1,495 qualified. To date, 1,081 households out of 1,495 families have moved to new houses. The remaining 414 are expected to have new homes soon.

Some 30 of the 1,081 applying families rented houses from the government, the rest received governmental allowances and found houses themselves.

(China Daily December 12, 2001)

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