Low-income housing too expensive for target households

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Many residential projects in Hanoi billed as housing for low-income people are actually too expensive for most working families, a recent VnExpress report said.

According to the report, many low-income housing projects have prices of between VND10 million and VND13.27 million per square meter. It means homebuyers have to pay up to VND1 billion (US$48,600) for an apartment.

This is not within the reach of many families.

Nguyen Huu Dat said his family of six live in a 20 square meter apartment in Hoan Kiem District. Hoping to move to a more spacious and comfortable place, Dat applied for the right to buy a low-income apartment in Long Bien District.

His application was given 91 points out of 100 a rather high score that made him an eligible buyer. Dat said he was happy with the score, only to find out that the apartment he's allowed to buy costs VND990 million.

The project developer has set the price too high for most home buyers, he said.

While many buyers like Dat are still considering whether to pay for the so-called affordable homes, some others may have gone too far.

Kim Thu said her low-income apartment in Kien Hung, a new urban neighborhood, also costs around VND900 million. Thu said she has paid VND238 million for the home, but was finding it hard to find the money to pay the rest.

"In the worst case scenario, if I can't borrow from my relatives, I will have to return the apartment to the developer and accept to lose some money as penalty," she told VnExpress.

Dang Hung Vo, former Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, said home prices in Vietnam are around 25 times higher than the income of a regular worker. The ratio in other countries is between two and four times.

Many low-income housing developers continue to build large and well-equipped apartments of more than 50 square meters, paying little attention to cutting costs. They forget that low-income families need the apartments to be as cheap as possible, he said.

"Home buyers will be exhausted by high prices and eventually they will just give up. Low-income housing will then have to be sold to better-off buyers, while others continue to be without a home," Vo said.

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