Mayor Vows to Achieve Housing Justice at Public Forum
Mayor Ko Wen-jo set out his public housing agenda when attending the “Housing Justice Forum II” on March 13.Ko pointed out that the construction for approximately 20,000 public housing units will begin during his tenure. He added that the tally of unoccupied homes in Taipei has reached 37,000 units, which calls for a calibrated housing policy to better address the high vacancy rate. Nonetheless, the mayor stressed the importance of government ownership of a particular number of houses, whether to be used as interim housing, to drive forward smart city industries, to introduce new types of communities, or as a platform for enhancing urban aesthetics. On rental assistance, Ko reckoned that the City plans to subsidize residents with an amount based on respective income levels. Issues regarding budgeting and the method of implementing will require further examination. He added that the government should also provide incentives for owners of vacant housing as a means to boost the rental housing market.Speaking of property tax, Ko noted that the rates for units used for residential purposes should be reformed to reflect the true situations where property-hoarding may take place. It is not fair for someone who owns three properties to enjoy low rates. With the central government yet to propose improvement measures targeting the problem, the City will seek to realize housing justice through lowering uniform rates and self-occupied property rates. The mayor also made a case for a major overhaul of the City’s urban renewal policies to adapt to today’s standards. According to surveys, it will take over two thousand years for Taipei to complete all urban renewal projects. Residents also have unrealistic expectations that their old apartment will be replaced with a new one --even with a parking space--at no additional cost. Topics that people are concerned about, such as transfer of building capacity, will be brought up in the fourth forum, Ko remarked.