Some large-scale social housing projects that have been put into use in recent years include the HQC Plaza project in Nguyen Van Linh Street in Binh Chanh District, invested by Hoang Quan Real Estate Joint Stock Company, with a scale of 1,750 units, inaugurated at the end of 2019 and the HOF-HQC Ho Hoc Lam project, invested by the HCMC Housing Development Fund (HOF) in association with Hoang Quan Real Estate JSC. The project has a total investment of more than VND608 billion, with a scale of 718 apartments. It is the first public-private partnership project implemented to solve the needs of social housing in HCMC.
Earlier, the apartment project of the Ministry of Public Security in No.3 Street in Binh An Ward in Thu Duc City, invested by Phu Cuong Investment Joint Stock Company, was also put into use in 2016. The 20-story apartment building with functional areas, including residential apartments, parking areas, a kindergarten, and a technical infrastructure system, covers more than 20,020 square meters. It has 956 apartments and a floor area of 128,425.51 square meters. However, according to authorities, the number of social housing projects is much less than the demand.
According to real estate experts, although accounting for 70-80 percent of the demand for housing in big cities like HCMC, the supply of affordable housing is extremely scarce or even unavailable in the market. From 2019, the chances for young people to buy houses were lower and lower because the kind of apartments priced at VND1.1 billion-VND1.5 billion per unit was almost no longer available in the market. Specifically, from the past 3 to 5 years, the price of Grade C and Grade B apartments from VND16 million to VND21 million per square meter has now reached VND25 million-VND36 million per square meter. Thus, people with a need for affordable housing can only rely on social housing projects.
“We really need an apartment to settle down, but with limited financial resources, we can only look forward to social housing projects to enjoy the policy of this program. However, for many years, our dream has not come true yet because the number of these projects is too low. I have searched for them, but they are unavailable,” shared Mr. Binh, a person looking to buy an affordable house.
According to the HCMC Housing Development Program for the 2016-2025 period approved by the municipal People's Committee in Decision No.5086/QD-UBND on November 14, 2018, in the 2016-2020 period, the city would strive to complete about 1.78 million square meters of housing floor area. In fact, only 1.28 million square meters of floor area were completed, equivalent to 15,177 apartments.
Ending the "ask-give" situation
In the 2021-2025 period, HCMC plans to develop about 2.27 million square meters of social housing floor area, equivalent to about 25,000 apartments, to meet a part of the demand. According to Mr. Huynh Thanh Khiet, Deputy Director of the HCMC Department of Construction, the department will continue to monitor and urge the implementation of 19 social housing projects, with a scale of 26,983 apartments, to meet the set target. The department will also update and review commercial housing projects with a scale of 10 hectares that have identified a 20-percent land fund to implement social housing and urge the implementation to ensure the achievement of the target of building social housing in these projects.
The Department of Construction has updated 65 commercial housing development projects, which have a land-use scale of 10 hectares upwards and have to spend 20 percent of residential land on building social housing, with a total area of about 197.3 hectares, equivalent to about 146,550 apartments. According to Mr. Khiet, the department plans to develop and manage social housing in the city in the 2021-2025 period to submit to the municipal People's Committee for promulgation.
However, how to mobilize social resources and various economic sectors to participate in this housing segment is not an easy problem. Although there are many incentives for enterprises to develop affordable housing and social housing, they remain apathetic. Mr. Nguyen Van Duc, Deputy Director of Dat Lanh Real Estate Company, one of the pioneering enterprises in building affordable houses in HCMC, analyzed that enterprises were not interested in affordable housing because the return was low, at only VND1 million-VND2 million per square meter. If there are financial problems, they will go bankrupt or suffer losses. In terms of legal procedures for low-income housing or high-end apartment projects, they are the same complicated as each other.
Mr. Ngo Quang Phuc, CEO of Phu Dong Group, said that the core solution to increase the supply of affordable housing is to create equal competition in the market and transparency in investment procedures for affordable housing. Especially, it should put an end to the "ask-give" situation to attract large enterprises with great potentials. According to Mr. Le Hoang Chau, Chairman of the HCMC Real Estate Association (HoREA), one of the reasons why the supply of affordable housing is scarce in the market is that the approval process for building construction is usually time-consuming.
On the other hand, the State Bank of Vietnam is currently implementing a schedule to gradually restrict credit to the real estate market, causing enterprises to face difficulties in seeking alternative capital sources.
“To increase the supply of housing, the State needs to continue to launch financial support packages to develop social and affordable housing, creating favorable conditions for investors, as well as buyers. At the same time, localities, including HCMC, should put forward solutions to consolidate and speed up the approval process of projects to stabilize the real estate market and prevent projects from being delayed, affecting the approval of new projects,” Mr. Chau suggested.