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May 17, 2010

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Mid-level earners to get rental help

IN a move aimed at helping middle-income workers, especially young professionals, local government is expected to release detailed guidelines at the end of this month on qualifying for Shanghai's rental housing.

The guidelines will be open to public comment, according to officials from the Shanghai Municipal Housing Support and Building Administration Bureau.

Officials have expressed alarm that Shanghai is suffering a brain drain because more and more talented people of marriageable age are leaving, unable to own decent housing.

These new rentals - renovated apartments in old urban areas as well as new residential communities - will be open to those who now have less than 15 square meters of living space per capita or no property in the city.

To qualify, applicants also have to be under a work contract with a local company of a year or more.

The apartments will be equipped with basic furniture and modest decorations and will be 40 to 50 square meters in area.

According to a survey by members from the Shanghai Committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference released last month, about 14 percent of Shanghai's non-local young residents are planning to leave the city because they think the rental level and real estate prices are unbearable.

Although they earn more than migrant workers, they still can't afford rentals of most apartments in the downtown. However, they are also not qualified for the city's budget houses and low-rent homes, which are open only to unemployed residents living on minimum social welfare.

On April 10th, the State Council asked banks to suspend loans to lenders who have two or more houses and also to restrict lending to buyers who can't provide tax certificates or proof of social security contributions.

Detailed mortgage policies in Shanghai have not been released yet and house owners as well as potential buyers are now taking a wait-and-see attitude.

In its annual land resource planning blueprint released in early April, Shanghai said it plans to designate around 70 percent out of the total 11 square kilometers of land supply to low-cost apartments and small and medium-sized apartments.

Last Friday, the city's municipal government said it will add another 23 large residential communities in non-central areas this year to increase the supply of affordable housing.


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