The government has announced that a new social housing application period will open during the last three months of the year, fours years after the last public housing application round was held.
The announcement was made by Secretary for Transport and Public Works Raimundo Arrais do Rosário during a Legislative Assembly (AL) plenary session held yesterday.
With 19,000 housing units expected to be available by the end of the year in “three buildings in Ilha Verde and two in Taipa”, the number of housing units reserved for economic and social housing will only be provided once the application process is initiated, the Secretary announced.
The plenary session was held for legislators to debate a request by legislator Ella Lei Cheng I that the government implement a permanent application system for public housing requests instead of holding separate application rounds, in order to improve the efficiency and speed of allotting housing to residents.
“Currently, the government only initiates the tenders after the houses are finished. Due to the large period of time inbetween tenders, when these open the number of applications is always really large,” the legislator said.
The last public housing tender was held in 2013, with more than 42,000 applications for 1,900 housing units received at the time.
Economic housing gives residents the possibility of purchasing housing at a cost lower than market price. Social housing is leased by the government to residents who meet the necessary conditions.
According to the most recent data provided by the Statistics and Census Service (DSEC) a total of 22,096 households were living in economic housing with 12,223 living in social housing as of August 2016, with both amounts having increased by 34.2 per cent and 108.8 per cent, respectively, since 2011.
Long and winding road
According to legislator Ella Lei, the slow speed of processing the volume of applications by the Housing Bureau, lasting two to three years, has created various problems for residents and the government.
The long waiting period also does not allow the government to register the exact data on the number and type of housing that is in greater demand, creating inconsistencies between the properties developed and the housing needed by residents, she added.
According to statements by representatives from the Housing Bureau during the session, the application procedure is a “long process” that takes three months, requiring the request and evaluation of several documents before a temporary list of applicants is provided, with delays in the process primarily caused by residents not submitting all the necessary paperwork.
“In almost 80 per cent [of cases], for the applications received we have to request additional information from residents,” Housing Bureau President Arnaldo Ernesto dos Santos said at the session.
However, several legislators believe this problem could be avoided if a permanent system was established for the housing applications.
For legislator Zheng Anting, although the news of a new application period was a “great treat”, when the new application period takes place the “usual complaints” from the Housing Bureau of lack of manpower will appear.
“Why can’t applications be done online? Maybe this way the work load wouldn’t be that large […] I hope a permanent application system can be created, with a large database that that can help define the number of housing units needed and future housing policies,” he added.
Secretary Rosário announced that a proposal to revise the current Public Housing Law was submitted in December 2016, with the possibility of creating a permanent application up for debate when the proposal reaches the AL.
The results of a study requested by the MSAR from a private company on the demand for public housing in Macau are also expected to be received in September, the Secretary added.