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Social housing protesters 'crazy': official

Social housing protesters 'crazy': official

Taipei, March 7 (CNA) The head of Taipei's Department of Urban Development Lin Chou-min (???) questioned Saturday people who have protested the city government's social housing program, describing them as "crazy" and "selfish." "Are the people in Taipei crazy?" Lin asked on his Facebook page that day, referring to protesters who gathered in Wanhua District a day earlier to voice their opposition to the city government's initiative to offer rent-only housing units that the local government said are available at prices lower than the going rate. Lin said he wondered why people who can afford to buy houses oppose being neighbors with people who cannot. "I love the people in Taiwan. But I don't understand why some people can be so selfish," he said. Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je and Lin attended a press conference in Wanhua a day earlier to announce the city's affordable housing policy, which prompted homeowners who live nearby to voice concern that the policy will cause housing prices to fall, affecting the rent they might receive in the future. Some were also worried their new neighbors will have an impact on their quality of life. The public housing initiative will serve people aged 20-45 who work or study in Taipei. Applicants and their immediate families must not own houses, while the annual income of the applicants and their families must be no higher than NT$1.19 million (US$37,615). During the first wave of the policy, 570 units have been put on offer at prices the government said are at least 15 percent lower than current market prices. The social housing units are located near four metro stations -- Longshan Temple Station in Wanhua, Gangqian Station, Taipei Bridge Station in the Sanchong District of New Taipei and Xiaobitan Station in Xindian District, also in New Taipei. The mayor responded to Lin's comments by saying that the rents for the social housing units are higher than reasonable, which he said represents a "compromise." He said he will not push the social housing policy in a way that makes it unbearable for homeowners. Ko acknowledged, however, that no policy can satisfy everyone at the very start. The social housing units were introduced as people in the nation's capital face rising houses prices, which, along with stagnant wages, have been blamed for Taiwan's low birthrate. It takes, on average, a family's 15.9 years-worth of disposable income to buy a house in Taipei in the third quarter of last year, according to the latest official data, up 0.93 years from the previous quarter. (By Huang Li-yun and Scully Hsiao)


Updated : 2021-09-25 21:18 GMT+08:00