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August 31, 2009

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Elevators smooth way for seniors

NEW elevators to be installed in housing for senior citizens will make life easier for residents who are too frail to use the stairs, after Shanghai's real estate authorities launched an improvement campaign.

Construction will begin at the end of this year to improve housing for retired Tongji University faculty living at the Tongji residential complex in Yangpu District, which was built in the 1950s.

Four six-story buildings will be renovated to install elevators and add about 15 to 20 square meters to each apartment. Residents have agreed to pay about 30,000 (US$4,392) to 40,000 yuan toward the cost of renovations, which will also add an extra story to the buildings.

Anfeng Real Estate Co Ltd has been selected to carry out the work, and company manager Zhu Wenxiang said the 48 households had agreed to the project, which will cost nearly 3 million yuan.

With residents contributing about 2 million yuan toward the cost, the company hopes to make a profit by selling apartments to be built on the new seventh floors, Zhu said.

"We are expecting to attract other residents inside the complex to have their buildings refitted the same way in future," Zhu said.

Many seniors living there welcomed the renovations, including Liu Meiling, a 60-year-old who lives on the third floor. "Using the stairs makes me breathless, and I often have to call my husband for help to climb them after going to the wet market," said Liu.

Members of the city's top political advisory body, the Shanghai Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, have called for such residential improvements after hearing complaints from seniors.

Cost benefits

"I know that some seniors haven't set foot outside for several years because they are too weak to walk downstairs," said CPPCC member Zhu Shouzheng.

Some delegates have urged the government to support such improvement programs, but suggested that residents should pay most of the cost because they would benefit from the elevators and increased space in their apartments.

The city real estate authority has not yet released details of any subsidies available for such work, which could also benefit senior citizens living in similar complexes in Putuo District and Pudong New Area.


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