The government on Monday revealed how it has managed to cut down the price tag for the 30,000 light public flats it plans to build, saying it will save millions by not installing air conditioners.
Housing minister Winnie Ho said changes to the design of the projects will bring the construction cost down by some HK$950 million in total, and the lack of air conditioners alone will slash about HK$200 million from the bill.
Some lawmakers had earlier expressed concern that the temporary homes for people waiting for public housing would be too costly.
Ho said the cost per square foot of the light public flats will be lower than that of transitional housing.
She said the government will ask Legco for HK$26.4 billion in funding for the projects in two phases - with the first application to be made soon and the second by the end of the next financial year.
The minister said the plan is an investment for the future and the flats will change the destiny of grassroots Hongkongers.
"This is not an ordinary public works project. This is a very important social project. The value of this light public housing is to save people and give them an option to move out of very poor living conditions," she told reporters after a media tour of one of the planned sites, in Kai Tak.
A mock-up unit set up at the Kai Tak Community Isolation Facility demonstrated how the flats will come with their own toilet, shower area and open cooking space. Despite no air conditioner, the unit did have a water heater and exhaust fan.
A government statement said the new flats will range in size from about 13 to 31 square metres.
"It is estimated that the first batch of around 2,100 units can be completed in 2024-25 earliest. The remaining units will be completed by phases in 2025-26 and 2026-27 respectively. About half of the LPH units will be in the urban area," the statement said.