Social Housing in Taiwan: A Quick Synopsis

I must give credit for this article to Yi-Ling Chen who is an associate professor of Geography and Planning at the University of Wyoming.  I met her at the International Social Housing Conference where she gave a nice presentation.  I am going quickly give an overview.

In 2015, social or affordable housing only made up less than 1% of the entire housing stock of the country.  The state does not do much in the way of either sponsoring affordable housing or regulating the industry as a whole. The lack of sufficient intervention from the state makes the housing market highly speculative.  Dr. Yi Ling Chen brought out in her presentation that the government and military benefit the most from the provision of affordable housing.

One of the greatest weaknesses in the affordable housing industry seems to be the lack of information or quality research on the housing market itself.   There is also a large push towards home-ownership and personal welfare or the family needs to take care for those who cannot take care for themselves.  I am not surprised that social housing is lacking if there is a negative overall impression of social welfare and the general trend is to support buying instead of renting.

A New Hope?:

President Tsai Ing-wen’s is promoting a secure housing policy to build 200,000 social housing units in the near future.  The idea is to provide some type of safety net in the form of housing for the spectrum of those who are suffering within their country.  The tactic to put this plan in place will be a joint public/private partnership.  The government itself will build 120,000 units and then rent 80,000 units from the private market.  The government will also try to stimulate the private sector to build more affordable housing through different incentive programs.

These plans are all working themselves out through the federal, state and local governments.  The federal government looks to provide some low interest funds to the local governments to develop and build new housing.  The idea of renting from the private market is also taking shape as 6 pilot cities will see thousands of private market units rented with a social mission in mind.  The private market should be very happy with this huge boost of private funds coming into their pockets.  Between the massive building programs and steady rent payments, it should provide not only more affordable housing but a nice national economic boom.

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