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From a little fish village to an international financial centre, Hong Kong has experienced a lot of changes. We would like to invite you to look back to the history of Hong Kong, the story of our home.
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《The History of Hong Kong III》 Development of Public Housing in Hong Kong


《The History of Hong Kong III》 Development of Public Housing in Hong Kong

In 1953, the most destructive fire in the history of Hong Kong hit the squatter area in Shek Kip Mei and left nearly 50 000 homeless. Subsequently, the Government built a large number of temporary accommodations for the victims. Many people think that this marked the beginning of Hong Kong public housing development, but is it really like that?

In fact, in as early as the 20’s and 30’s, in view of the large number of Mainland Chinese flooded into Hong Kong, resulting in a serious shortage of housing, the colonial government conducted studies in 1923 and 1935 respectively. The corresponding Housing Committee Report proposed that the Government should offer land grants at low premium for businessmen to build low-cost housing for the people, thereby improving the inadequate housing problem and the poor living condition issue. Of the people moving in Hong Kong back then, some of them are rich businessmen, and some businessmen in Hong Kong also took the opportunity to urge the Government to carry out large scale housing projects. Although Hong Kong was facing an economic downturn at that time, and the proposals could not be implemented or ended in failure, the specific housing recommendations in the report of 1935 had already set the tone for Hong Kong's housing policy.

In 1939, the Government formally enacted legislations related to town planning and began to lead the town planning work, thereby breaking the positive non-interventionism policy and marking the milestone of Hong Kong’s housing and town planning history.

The first organisation which provided low-rent housing was finally established after WWII, when Hong Kong began to rebuild. With a donation from the Air Raid Distress Fund of the Lord Mayor of London, a housing authority was found. In 1952, Sheung Li Uk Estate, Hong Kong’s first public estate was built. Subsequently, with a huge number of refugees flooding in, a lot of huts were built along the hillside. Later on, several big fires broke out. In order to effectively rehouse the victims, the colonial government built her first wholly-owned government housing – the resettlement buildings in Shek Kip Mei, which also marked the beginning of the government public housing measures.

In the 1960’s, as urban land was becoming increasingly scarce, the government began to formulate new land planning policies and housing strategies, and announced the implementation of new town plans, with Kwun Tong and Tsuen Wan being the first generation of new towns or satellite towns. To cope with the prevailing industrial development, public housing estates were built near the industrial areas. In the 1970’s, Governor MacLehose announced his Ten-year Housing Programme, in which Sha Tin and Tuen Mun were included in the list of developing new towns again. At that time, the idea was to use public housing to kick start the community development, so as to establish a self-support community in all aspects. By migrating the population from the urban areas to the new towns, land in urban areas could be released for the development of other industries.

Hong Kong has gone through several decades of public housing development, which played a very important role in her post-war social and economic development. Public housing provides Hong Kong people with stable accommodations; by coping with land planning policies in different period, it also effectively mobilises a large number of labour force, and facilitates promotes Hong Kong's economic development.
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