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Low-rent housing for migrant workers

0 CommentsPrintE-mail CCTV, September 18, 2009
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Addressing the housing issue for migrant workers is a tough task on China's road to economic development and urbanization. A pilot project to provide migrants with low-rent apartments has been carried out in Chongqing. Zhang Lu reports on the success of the scheme.

A heavy burden, for a better life.

Meng Xiaolin has been working as a porter in Chongqing for years. It's very hot, which makes it the best season for his beer business. Meng earns 1,000 yuan every month. A better income is only one part of his life in city. He also needs an affordable place to live. Meng now lives in low-rent housing provided by the local government. People call it the Sunlight Apartments.

Meng said, "I've lived here for nearly one year. I think conditions here aren't bad. What's more important, the rent is cheap."

The apartment costs him only one yuan a day. With water, electricity and gas fees, total monthly rent is no more than 100 yuan. Migrant workers usually don't earn much. Low rent can really help.

Huang Chunyan, Deputy Head of Nanping Street of Chongqing, said, "In our district, there are more than 40 thousand migrants. The group is becoming bigger day by day and housing for them has long been a problem. Providing low-rent apartments can help address their difficulties."

Huang says the name "Sunlight" means they hope the government service can bring warmth to these hard working people living far away from their home and family.

The apartment provides more than just a bed.

Meng Xiaolin and his room-mates--Does he have his own apartment or is it just a room?--and neighbors watch TV every evening. They also have a reading room. Facilities and services are in place for comfort and convenience. The building has become a community for migrant workers.

Meng said, "It's good to live here. There are many people. We can talk and drink beer together in the evening."

There are currently 10 Sunlight Apartments in Nanping district in Chongqing. An adequate labor force is the foundation for economic growth. Dealing with the housing issue for migrant workers is crucial for narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor, to achieve social stability. And it's a vital part of the country's efforts to accelerate urbanization.

Yan Hongliang comes from Hebei province. He says he used to rent from locals. It's more expensive and he was asked to move from time to time.

Yan said, "I've worked in quite a few cities, Chongqing is the first to provide low-rent apartments for migrants workers. If other cities can follow, it will be good to poor people like me and it will be useful for building a harmonious society."

Chongqing plans to raise the urbanization rate from current 46 percent to 70 percent by 2020. That means millions of farmers and migrant workers will become urban residents. The experiment in housing for those people will go on.

Meng said, "I plan to live here for two more years. I'm getting old. Then I'll quit working and go back to my home village and live there for the rest of my life."

Meng says if he can have a permanent place to live, he may choose to stay. Life in the city is much better, but he'll never be able to afford a house here.

For many migrants like Meng, they hope change could take place soon for them.

Urbanization is a long term strategy for China's development.


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