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City Boosts Budget for Low-cost Homes

The government of Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province, has increased its budget to build more low-cost homes for poor families.

The Guangzhou Financial Bureau spent 354 million yuan (US$46 million) last year, and has promised to spend 1.3 billion yuan this year.

A family with an average living area of less than 10 sq m per person is defined as extremely poor. Only families in this category are qualified to receive assistance from the government, and purchase or rent low-cost houses.

The definition of extremely poor families has changed several times in the past decade.

In 1998, families living in an area of less than 5 sq m per person were regarded as extremely poor. In 2004, it was 7 sq m, and in 2006, it was increased to 10 sq m. Therefore, many more families are now qualified to benefit from the policy.

According to official estimates there are 5,643 extremely poor families in Guangzhou.

The selling price of a low-cost house must be equal to or less than 3 percent of the construction cost.

Guangzhou's mayor Zhang Guangning said the allocation of low-cost homes will be done according to family size. The size of an apartment should be about 20 sq m for each family member, higher than the average living area in the city, which is 18.87 sq m per person.

The largest low-price housing construction site is located in the Jinshazhou Community of Guangzhou's Baiyun District.

"There are 1,200 people involved in its construction," Luo Weidong, manager of the project, said. "More than 6,000 apartments will be completed by the year's end".

Yi Songcui, an official at the Guangzhou Housing System Reform Office, said by 2010 there will be another 9,200 poor families coming on stream.

"A lot of low-cost housing projects will start in the next few months and be completed by 2010. We plan to make available about 23,500 apartments," Yi said.

(China Daily August 30, 2007)

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