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October 5, 2010

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UN calls for action in rental market

SHANGHAI needs to improve its rental market to let its poorer citizens lead a better life in a city where house prices are high, United Nations officials said yesterday on World Habitat Day.

Daniel Biau, a UN-Habitat director, said it wasn't possible for everyone living in a city to be a home owner but "what is missing or underdeveloped here is the rental market."

The city had gone through decades-long home policy reform which is not complete yet, added Biau, who was in Shanghai yesterday for a ceremony to mark World Habitat Day.

This year's theme - "Better City, Better Life" - is one it shares with the Expo.

Inga Bjork-Klevby, deputy executive director of UN-Habitat, said the "ultimate goal" was for all city dwellers to have affordable houses. "We should bear in mind the poorest of the poor."

The organization has been working with local governments and some banks on affordable home projects in Shanghai, she said.

According to a report on China's cities released by a domestic research institute yesterday, the urban housing problem is of particular concern for some moderate or lower income families in a country where the urbanization rate will reach 65 percent by 2030.

For example, tens of thousands of young college graduates live in cramped conditions on the outskirts of cities, often in houses of low quality, the report said.

Shen Jun, vice mayor of Shanghai, said the city was aware of these problems and is gearing up to improve urban living conditions. More than 1.2 million households in the city last year saw improvements when their old residential communities were renovated or they were moved to new budget homes.

The Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination received a special recognition award from UN-Habitat yesterday for its achievements in promoting human habitat construction at the Expo.

"Countries around the world have brought their best responses to urban challenges to the Expo," Bjork-Klevby said.

UN-Habitat is the UN agency mandated to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all.


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