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December 23, 2009

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Subsidy flats lack occupants

SOME government-subsidized rental apartments in Zhangjiang High-Tech Park for white-collar workers have gone begging because of the units' location and because potential renters had difficulties in the economic downturn.

Two of the seven buildings designated for "apartment for talented professionals," where the rent is partly paid by the government to attract professionals, are only 50 percent occupied, months after the preferential policy was launched. Another building is two-thirds leased out.

Zhangjiang authorities attributed the problem to the houses' inconvenient location, but office workers blamed slashed paychecks that have prevented them from affording the rent.

"We will hold a meeting next month to discuss the problems and work out solutions," said an official surnamed Bian at the Zhangjiang program's lease-service center.

The center started in 2006 to provide newcomers working in the Zhangjiang area with transitional apartments by building or buying existing apartments.

Pudong government plans to provide 15,000 "apartments for talented professionals" in Zhangjiang by the end of next year.

Professionals who cannot afford their own homes but need a residence can live in the transitional apartments up to three years with favorable rental fees and a monthly subsidy of 200 yuan (US$29).

More than 120,000 employees work in the 25-square-kilometer Zhangjiang High-Tech Park, a national-level park for high and new technologies.

"There is no public transport linking my company and the designated apartment building," said Steven Qian, a white-collar worker in the industrial park.

"It's quite expensive to call a cab home, considering the reduction of traffic subsidies in the economic downturn."

Some buildings in the subsidized-apartment program are in more central locations.

In these, occupancy is as much as 80 percent, and the problem is one of competition: People have complained about slow turnover making it hard to get in.


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