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Housing Fund to Be Raised for Low-income Families

China will try hard to fund housing for low-income urbanities as funding remains a problem, said Qi Ji, deputy minister of construction on Thursday.

"There is still a big fund gap," Qi told a news conference about expanding low-rent housing for the country's low-income families.

By 2010, the low-rent housing system will expand from four million urban residents with basic living allowances to those 10 million low-income families, according to a policy framework released by the State Council earlier this month.

"To let more families enjoy the low-rent housing, China needs an annual fund of 50 billion yuan but all money that can be raised can barely reach 14 billion yuan every year, said Qi.

Local governments should earmark funds for low-rent housing in their budgets and at least 10 percent of the proceeds of land sales and all the proceeds of the housing provident funds should be used for low-rent housing, he said.

The central government will also grant special financial support to central and western regions for the low-rent housing.

According to statistics, the average housing area for each urbanite have risen to 27 square meters in 2006 from 6.7 square meters in 1978 when China began its opening and reform drives. But there are still 10 million low-income families with housing space per capita barely reaching 10 square meters.

By the end of 2006, 512 of China's 657 cities have had initiated affordable housing strategies, but only 268,000 households, or 2.7 percent of the low-income families nationwide, have benefited from the low-renting housing policy.

(Xinhua News Agency August 31, 2007)

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