Social housing policy: achieving housing justice

  • Date: 2016-09-02

I. Background

As part of President Tsai Ing-wen’s “five major social stability programs,” the government is promoting a secure housing policy that will provide 200,000 social housing units within eight years. This housing policy will help young people, middle-class workers, single parent families, people suffering from disabilities, senior citizens, and all those unable to purchase their own homes to have a safe and secure place in which to live.

To achieve these goals the government will construct 120,000 new housing units, sublease 80,000 units from private landlords and manage the properties on their behalf, and also offer incentives to qualified developers to increase the supply of affordable housing. Subleasing idle properties from private owners and putting them on the rental market will help alleviate housing issues for those who cannot afford a home, and act as a market balancing mechanism to regulate the home rental and purchase markets, stabilizing housing supply and demand while protecting the right to housing.

 

II. Policy objectives

A. Increase supply: The administration’s goal is to provide 200,000 rental units within eight years by constructing 120,000 new units and subleasing 80,000 privately owned units. The Executive Yuan also passed draft amendments to the Housing Act on September 1, 2016 to raise the proportion of social housing units reserved for economically or socially disadvantaged groups to 30 percent. The amendment passed its third and final reading at the Legislature on December 23, 2016.

B. Rentals, not sales: To provide a quality living environment at reasonable rental prices, the social housing policy focuses on homes for rent only and not for sale.

 

III. Policy implementation measures

A. Remove obstacles faced by local governments: To help local governments create social housing units, the Housing Act was amended to resolve issues regarding land acquisition, fundraising, taxes and manpower.

B. Assist local governments to acquire land and resources:
 

  1. State-owned non-public land or buildings may be used, free of charge, by local governments for the construction and management of social housing.  
  2. State-owned non-public land or buildings that cannot be used free of charge may be rented by local governments for long-term use without having to purchase the property.
  3. Publicly owned land or buildings may be converted into social housing units through urban renewal projects.
  4. Available space may be increased by modifying how land is used and providing developers with incentives to build more affordable housing units.

     

C. Establish a social housing financing platform: Help local governments obtain financing by providing long-term, low-interest loans through the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) financing platform.

D. Promote subleasing of privately owned units: In 2017, the government will launch a pilot project in six special municipalities to sublease 100,000 units from private landlords. The government will authorize an agent to sublease the property from the original owner and manage the property on their behalf.

 

IV. Expected benefits

A. Newly constructed units: According to MOI estimates, the number of new social housing units to be constructed by Taiwan’s special municipalities, counties and cities by the year 2020 will top 40,000—including the 7,295 units already built and the 37,712 to be completed or partially completed between 2016 and 2020. Over the next four years the government is expected to invest in excess of NT$146.2 billion (US$4.6 billion) in construction projects, generating more than NT$482.5 billion (US$15.2 billion) in long-term economic benefits and creating over 139,000 jobs.

B. Subleased units: The government’s goal from 2017 to 2020 is to provide 40,000 subleased units by finding 10,000 units per year while reviewing actual results on an annual basis. In the coming four years, efforts to sublease and manage such units and support the rental industry are expected to generate total economic value of NT$38 billion (US$1.2 billion)—including over NT$30.54 billion (US$961.6 million) in rental income, NT$5.59 billion (US$176.0 million) in apartment referral and management services, NT$1 billion (US$31.5 million) in repair services and NT$890 million (US$28.0 million) in insurance.

 

V. Conclusion

The government is ultimately responsible for achieving housing justice, and helping every citizen find an affordable and satisfactory place to call home. Toward that end, the government is implementing a social housing policy to build or sublease 200,000 rental units within eight years. This overall social housing policy also includes plans for developing a healthy real estate market, providing different types of housing assistance, and improving the quality of the residential environment. Once assured of their basic right to housing, citizens will be able to live in contentment and work with enthusiasm, and help build a more secure, prosperous and sustainable Taiwan.