Special Report – Solve the problem by 2030

The Government intends to build about 45,000 [I assume] houses for the various income classes by the end of the decade, thus ending the shortage of low-cost housing

Macau Business | September 2022 | Special Report | Housing: A place to call home

According the Study on Housing Policy for Residential Purposes from the Policy Research and Regional Development Bureau (DSEPDR), as of the end of June 2021 there were a total of 238,464 housing units in Macau, of which 15,037 were social housing (6.3 per cent of the total), 36,963 were affordable housing (15.5 per cent) and 186,464 were private housing (78.2 per cent).

The study also mentions 16,655 vacant units, constituting a total vacancy rate of 7.0 per cent. “The high vacancy rate of large units is a salient structural feature of Macau’s housing supply,” the Study says.

This document also includes estimates of the population’s housing needs until 2030.

The paper projects a median total social housing demand of 17,394 units and 18,166 units for the years 2025 and 2030, respectively.

Deducting the existing 15,037 units (as of end June 2021) from the projected demand, the shortfall would be 2,350 units (in 2025) increasing to 3,100 units (in 2030).

Therefore, the Government says it will make 6,150 units of social housing available. Of this total 2,100 were already under construction at the time of the Study’s publication (January 2022), with the remaining 4,050 units in the planning phase. “Therefore, in the future, the amount of social housing will be sufficient”, the Executive calculates.

With respect to the median total economic housing demand, the paper projects figures of 57,399 units and 59,949 units for the years 2025 and 2030, respectively.

Again, deducting the existing 36,963 units (as of end June 2021) from the projected demand, the deficit would be 20,400 units (in 2025) growing to 23,000 units (in 2030).

The Government has promised 23,950 units of affordable housing, 3,017 of these under construction and 20,933 in the planning phase.

Using these calculations, the Government contends it is making available a surplus of 950 economic housing units over the target for 2030.

The math is more complex when it comes to the “new” (in Macau, at least) sandwich class: the Policy Research and Regional Development Bureau’s study projects a median total demand for intermediate housing (as the Government calls it) of 5,400 units (in 2025) and 10,100 units (in 2030).

“Assuming it does not impinge on the land necessary for the construction of public housing, the Macau SAR Government will subsequently launch construction of intermediate housing.” In the next five years, the plan is to build between 7,000 and 10,000 units of intermediate housing, with the promised launch of “a pioneering plan for intermediate housing during the current government mandate”.

The study quoted here presents figures for median total demand for housing for the elderly, as well – 2,800 units (in 2025) and 3,400 units (in 2030) – also projecting that the maximum demand for private housing will be 25,600 units through 2030.

With respect to the elderly, we learn that “once it has completed a pioneering elderly residence project [1,815 units], the Macau SAR Government will determine the number of additional units to be built, taking into account analysis of the elderly proportion of the population, data on owned property, and characteristics of the owned property such as the specific situation of the elderly demand.”

As Professor Li Sheng explains to Macau Business, “Based on policy research and earlier forecasts by the DSEPDR, the government is expected to be able to provide enough public housing, economically affordable housing and sandwich-class housing to meet residents’ demands by 2030. In terms of senior housing and private housing, the government is not expected to be able to meet the societal needs in 2030. Nevertheless, it needs to advance housing planning and accelerate the construction of related systems.”

Works in progress or for which the contract has already been awarded

 Number of units Number of projects
Social Housing 2100 2
Affordable housing 8263 8

Source: Housing Bureau, July 2022

3 suggestions

Throughout his Study on the Construction of an Indicator System to Evaluate the Population’s Living Standards and a post-Handover Living Standards Index for the MSAR Population, author Lin Deqin (City University of Macau) reiterates: “The Government should impose limits on housing purchases at the macro level, ensuring that housing is purchased by buyers with real needs and not purchased as an investment. The effective elimination of some speculative real estate transactions can help ‘lower’ the price of housing, ensuring the efficient distribution of local housing resources, in order to support residents with real needs in the purchase of a home.”

This is just one of several suggestions that the Macau-based scholar advocates in his research.

Another: “The Government must review and improve the mechanism, coordination and allocation of affordable and social housing, in order to ensure the reasonable and equitable allocation of public housing to the neediest. The mechanism for assessing applications must also be improved, in order to exclude, in good time, candidates who do not meet the necessary requirements.” For Lin, “Social housing should play a primary role and affordable housing a secondary role”.

“The Government should impose limits on housing purchases at the macro level, ensuring that housing is purchased by buyers with real needs and not purchased as an investment” – Lin Deqin

Finally, the researcher addresses the problem of urban renewal: “There are many empty buildings in Macau’s old quarters, and the ‘aged’ buildings represent hidden risks, namely for public health and safety.”

Lin Deqin concludes therefore that “the Government must improve the applicable legislation and proactively promote urban renewal and the redevelopment of old neighbourhoods, defining a timetable for this purpose, in order to ensure the useful and effective use of the land and resolve, as quickly as possible, the problems that have plagued the inhabitants of the old quarters for many years.”

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