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Some 30,000 families to leave shabby homes this year

THE city is going to renovate 700,000 square meters of dilapidated housing this year to improve the living conditions of about 30,000 families, most of them with low incomes.

The city government needs to speed up the work as there are still a great many people living in shabby houses and pockets of poverty in the city.

Under new regulations made last year, urban redevelopment must be made transparent. Developers must gain approval from dislodged families before tearing down their old houses.

"Initial communication is vital," said Shanghai Vice Mayor Shen Jun. "It can pave the way for demolition and compensation."

Shen said the city government is expected to pay a total of 90 billion yuan in relocation compensations this year.

The city has made remarkable progress in upgrading old neighborhoods and turning tenement houses into apartments with private kitchen and bathroom. In the past five years, the city has renovated or demolished 3.3 million square meters of shabby houses and relocated about 120,000 families to new homes.

It is estimated that the city still has about 5 million square meters of shabby housing for renovation or demolition.

Officials said that under the new regulations, relocation for a major construction project cannot start only after 80 percent of the affected families have agreed on compensation terms by two rounds of voting. If the terms are not accepted by the majority, authorities should revise the terms for voting again.

Demolition of a downtown plot in Hongkou District was halted in December when fewer than 70 percent of the families refused the compensation offers. The government still faces challenges in its efforts to improving people's living, the officials said.

They said building new apartments for relocated families is also a headache as the city is running out of available land. Many families demand new homes near where they used to live. That means higher costs for redevelopment projects.


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