Kwok Yu Lau
In a place that is well known for its residual welfare system (McLaughlin 1993), the co-existence of a strong state housing programme in Hong Kong is beyond the understanding of many people. In 1999, 38 per cent of households in permanent housing in Hong Kong rented public flats, 14 per cent purchased public sector built for sale flats, 12 per cent were in the private rented tenure and 33 per cent were owner occupiers in private housing. 1 In other words, over half of Hong Kong's households are currently housed in public sector rental and sale flats of a reasonably high standard. The remainder are in private sector housing, of diverse quality and price ranging from the highly expensive houses in the Peak area to average priced rural houses in the remote New Territories.
The housing system is also dominated by geography. Housing 6.84 million people in a built up residential area of only 58 square kilometres, Hong Kong is one of the world's most densely populated urban environments (Hong Kong 2000). As a result of the terrain, the limited land supply, high land prices, and the locational preferences of the populace, the most intensive form of housing development in high rise flatted blocks has had to be adopted (Blundell 1996). The average size of dwellings in Hong Kong in terms of saleable floor area is only 45 square metres. 2
This chapter outlines, firstly, the institutional and, secondly, the legislative framework of the housing system in Hong Kong. These sections describe the transition from a residual housing policy system that provided rental housing for those with the very lowest incomes to one which, in providing opportunities for home ownership for those on