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21,000 families not eligible for benefit

By Wang Huazhong and Zheng Jinran (China Daily)

08:19, July 19, 2012

More than 21,000 ineligible families are living in affordable housing in 42 cities and counties, according to a report released on Wednesday.

The National Audit Office's report, which focuses on affordable-housing projects in 66 cities and counties, said 193,000 subsidized units, or 24.85 percent of all the samples taken, were built bigger than the standard size of affordable housing.

China plans to build 36 million affordable-housing units from 2011 to 2015, a plan partly aimed at cooling the property market.

But the report said flaws were found in the funding, construction and management of some projects.

"To some extent, funding and management of the construction projects were not standard and allocation and management of the houses were not strict enough," the report said.

From November to March, the office looked into 773,500 units in 66 cities and counties in 18 provincial-level regions. They were required by provincial governments to build 1.61 million units with 67.5 billion yuan ($10.6 billion) in 2011.

Among the units reviewed by the office, 5,479 households are allowed to live in the affordable units without having had their backgrounds or income checked.

Government regulations stipulate affordable-housing units cannot exceed 60 square meters and rented units cannot be larger than 50 sq m. However, the report said 193,000 units were built on average 26.52 sq m larger than the stipulated size.

The office found 803 projects, or 38.13 percent of those reviewed, in 46 cities and counties, did not comply with required procedures at several stages of their development, including survey, design, construction, supervision and bidding.

Gu Yunchang, vice-president of the China Real Estate Association, said the malpractices might be connected with the plan to drive forward the affordable-housing plan in a short period.

"When we put large amounts of resources and energy into the projects, we should place equal importance on supervising the implementation and quality of the project," Gu said. "We need to ensure favorable policies and designated funds for housing projects must not be abused."

A senior official with the housing and urban-rural development authority of Hebei province, told China Daily the auditors have been "extremely serious" in their accounting and her authority acknowledges the problems discovered.

But the official, who wished to remain anonymous, said the size of some units that are larger than allowed is due to design. She said although some units are slightly bigger, the average size of units in the building does not exceed the set limits.

Other malpractices were also pointed out in the report.

Part of the land allocated to 95 projects in the regions was misappropriated for commercial development such as building hotels and office buildings.

More than 2,800 units have been sold as commercial properties and 14,600 units were left unused for more than six months after construction.

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