China’s affordable ambitions

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China Economic Review, October 2010 • It’s as if they hit the jackpot. This summer about 1,940 families were selected to purchase affordable apartments in Shanghai through a new government housing scheme. To qualify for the trial project, a family’s average annual income per capita must be less than RMB 27,600 (US$4,077) with each member’s share of current living space fewer than 15 square meters.

While China’s property boom has been a boon for the country’s wealthy elite, home ownership has remained an unattainable dream for many of the county’s low-income workers and even middle-class professionals.

But now, Shanghai officials are planning to build a further 1.2 million low-income apartments in non-central areas of the city. Chongqing also announced in September that it will construct 40 million sq m of public housing over a three-year period.

These programs come after the central government set an official target of building 3 million low-cost housing units and renovating 2.8 million others this year. By 2011, Beijing hopes to bring as many as 13 million new affordable homes into the mix.

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