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ELECTION 2024/Presidential candidates present social housing policies

09/29/2023 09:25 PM
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A Linkou Social Housing converted from the World Universiade Village. CNA file photo
A Linkou Social Housing converted from the World Universiade Village. CNA file photo

Taipei, Sept. 29 (CNA) Vice President Lai Ching-te (賴清德), who is also the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) presidential candidate, said on Wednesday that if elected, he will continue the government's current social housing policy and raise the supply of social housing to 1 million units.

The incumbent DPP government's policy goal has been to increase the supply of social housing units to meet the demand of the 800,000 households in the country that want to rent.

The existing policy aims to have 200,000 social housing units - 120,000 newly constructed homes and 80,000 units subleased from private owners and managed (by government-commissioned private companies) on their behalf - made available in the period between 2017 and 2024.

Lai, at an event celebrating the performance of the "social housing subleasing and management service system," said the system has seen the participation of close to 60,000 units in the seven years since it was first launched, with the number expected to reach 80,000 by the end of President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) second term in May 2024.

The system is a government-sponsored program in which landlords rent out units at different discounted rates, depending on whether they lease to tenants directly (with the help of government-commissioned agencies) or sublease via government-commissioned agencies.

The new construction of homes, on the other hand, is also expected to reach 120,000 as promised, by the end of Tsai's term in office, said Lai.

As the DPP presidential candidate, Lai said he will continue Tsai's policy and raise the total number of social housing units to 500,000, including increasing the number of newly constructed homes to 250,000 and units under the "subleasing and management service system" to 250,000 within the span of eight years.

He also undertook to expand the rent subsidy program to include a minimum of 500,000 households, an increase of about 100,000 from the current 400,000 households.

A total of 1 million households will benefit from the policies, meeting the demand of 800,000 households that want to rent, said Lai.

New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜), the opposition Kuomintang's (KMT) presidential nominee, also released a press statement outlining his social housing policy on Friday.

Hou put forth a housing policy platform in mid-July, with a significant focus on social housing. The platform included measures such as promoting rent transparency, curbing real estate speculation, offering support to young tenants, and giving priority to families with newborns for social housing units, according to his statement.

According to release, Hou reiterated on Thursday his social housing policies at a forum.

He called for a "diversified source" of social housing units. In New Taipei City, for example, a certain proportion of new development zones is designated for social welfare use, he said.

In New Taipei City, the quantity and quality of social housing have been addressed, Hou said, the latter of which refers to the provision of public childcare and daycare services in social housing complexes.

He also proposed reassigning the responsibilities of social housing operations back to the local governments which are more familiar with the local situation.

On rent, Hou said the range of rents for social housing should be further subdivided, benefiting those who need discounted rent the most.

As such, rent transparency is extremely important, Hou added, and the government has to make more effort to provide privately-owned vacant residences in the rental market with reasonable rent.

On the incumbent government's "subleasing and management services," Hou said rankings should be introduced so the most vulnerable receive better terms and care.

Taiwan People's Party presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) in August agreed on the need to increase social housing units and provide more rent subsidies.

He proposed using land vacated by the merging of schools, saying there is plenty of state-owned land that has not be fully utilized.

Ko also proposed forcing the release of vacant houses onto the rental market by using tax as an incentive or penalty, such as having rent separately taxed from income or setting a higher tax rate for houses owned by individuals with multiple properties but a lower tax rate for landlords who "lease houses for public welfare purposes."

Regarding social housing, business tycoon and independent presidential contender Terry Gou (郭台銘) said in mid-July, before announcing his bid, that he was willing to establish a "social housing company" that would "construct social housing units with the efficiency of a private company."

(By Wen Kuei-hsiang, Kuo Chien-shen, Kao Hua-chien and Alison Hsiao)

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