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Migrants to Beijing struggle to afford rent, adequate housing: report

By Wang Nan (Global Times)

10:43, July 04, 2013

Migrant workers in Beijing live in worse conditions and have more housing pressure than official residents of the capital, according to a report issued Tuesday.

The findings, from the 2013 Report on Analysis of Beijing Social Construction, were jointly announced by the Beijing University of Technology, the Beijing Social Construction Office, and the Social Sciences Academic Press.

The report found that the majority of Beijing permanent residents have gradually improved the quality of housing, with 81.3 percent of those with a Beijing hukou (household registration) living in apartments with two or more bedrooms.

However, with most migrant workers unable to buy property in the capital, rents are increasing, meaning that it takes at least 43 percent of the average wage to pay rent for a Beijing residence.

The per capita housing area of a migrant is 5.6 square meters, and only a few elite groups can afford a whole residence, the report said. The per capita housing area of Beijing's permanent urban residents is 29.26 square meters.

"Rent is a great burden to me and it eats up most of my salary," said Huang Juan, who works at a State-run magazine and lives in one of the most prosperous areas of Beijing.

Since the house purchasing restrictions were introduced in February 2011, in a bid to cool down the overheated property market, it has become increasingly difficult for migrants to get on the housing ladder in Beijing.

"After these restrictions took effect, our company's sales volume to migrants with no Beijing hukou declined from 37 percent in 2010 to under 20 percent this year," said Zhang Quanguo, an agent from Beijing Homelink Real Estate.

Dong Liming, a vice director-general at the China Land Science Society, said that housing problems are a reflection of both the wealth and urban-rural gap.

"To help migrants integrate into urban life quickly, government should draw up policy to support low-rent housing and public rental housing projects in order to at least make the rental market more equitable," said Dong.

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