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Insight on public housing: Lessons we can learn from developed countries

01-05-2012 08:57 BJT

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To talk about government housing, we are joined in the studio by my colleague Wu Haojun.

Q1: Some developed countries have a long history of providing public housing to the economically disadvantaged. Can you tell us more about that? And is there anything we can learn from them?

A: Absolutely. Let’s take the UK as an example. It’s among the world’s first countries to provide public housing to its underprivileged citizens. And there are a lot of historical parallels between China and the UK when we look at the issue. Like China, the UK began its public housing projects during it’s own period of industrialization. Beginning in a few industrialized and economically prosperous cities in response to an in-flux of people from all over the country looking for new opportunities and a better life. Now that was back in the 1880’s. Today things are being done a bit differently.

Public housing in the country today is not run directly by the government, but by some 2,000 non-profit Housing Associations across the nation. They acquire land from the government, then work with developers on building public and commercial housing together. That’s why you don’t see isolated and poor quality public housing projects in the UK like you see in some other countries. Developers in the UK are required under the Planning Gain Agreements to use 15 to 20% of the land for public housing.

So residents can enjoy the same kind of infrastructure, such as schools, hospitals and roads, as their more well-off neighbours living in commercial housing.

Q2: What are some challenges those countries more experienced in public housing development still face?

A: One recurring theme is that public housing doesn’t solve everything. There is a larger picture of income disparity and an ever widening gap between the rich and the poor. For example, I have visited public housing or so called “projects” in the U.S. Most of the time, running water, electricity and transportation are not an issue. But what’s really perpetuating the underprivileged status of those living in the projects is a lack of equal education and job opportunities.


Editor:Zhang Jingya |Source: CNTV.CN

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