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Social housing projects need transparency and accountability

Update: March, 16/2018 - 09:00
Đào Ngọc Nghiêm. — Photo

Đào Ngọc Nghiêm, vice chairman of the Hà Nội Association for Urban Planning and Development, speaks to the newspaper Kinh tế Đô thị (Urban Economy) about the high demand for more social housing projects in the city

Hà Nội plans to build a pilot social housing project in the outlying district of Đông Anh, with complete infrastructure and services. What do you think about this plan?

Developing social housing projects has become an imperative need for all major urban areas like Hà Nội or Hồ Chí Minh City. The development of social housing projects is already included in the national housing development by 2020 with the vision to 2030.

The current rapid economic development requires a huge labour force. In such a context, the development of a strategy on housing development is rational. What’s more important, current housing projects have been facing many challenges. So Hà Nội’s decision to focus on the development of social housing is the right choice. However, in my opinion, to meet the increasing demand of social housing, Hà Nội should learn experiences from the past in its social housing development and focus on the principle of “meeting people’s demand”, rather than “having more houses built”.

Do you know of any foreign country that has been successful in developing a project on building concentrated social houses?

There are two types of such housing projects that have been carried out in other countries. The first type is that the project gets a part or the entire funding from the State budget. In the second type, the project is financed by the private sector. So after the project is completed, it will be on lease or for sale. This model is very common in developed countries. According to social statistics on demography, it is projected that from 2018-2020, Việt Nam will experience a boom in social housing development. This forecast should be treated as a benchmark in social housing development for Việt Nam. At the same time, it should be considered a good opportunity for the construction sector to develop. Social housing development should take a step ahead. It lays the foundations for the building of new high rises or new urban areas.

Will you please share with us some principles in the development of social houses which put people at the centre?

There are four principles as follows;

First, the scope and scale of a social housing project is very diverse. It is divided into 10 groups. That’s why a very important principle for a social housing project is to define who will be the future residents in the project. When that piece of information is available, the architects will then start to design the floor plans. Of course, for a building designed for blue-collar workers, the floor plans will be totally different from that for white-collar workers.

Second, it is imperative to have a good concept plan for a social housing project. Who are the residents of the building? We need to have an answer to the question as the living arrangements should be comfortable for the residents. The architects need to consider such questions to design the apartments and cater to the needs of their future residents.

Third, social housing projects are not simply a product of an enterprise. It is a product of the whole society, so it should be diverse and meet the aesthetics of the general public. Last but not least, its social infrastructure, techniques and especially the common space for people to gather and share their ideas together. In short, the residents should feel happy to live in the buildings.

And finally, the Government should grant a special policy for the construction of social housing projects.

In the past, the Government already gave a low interest loan of VNĐ30 trillion ($1.3 billion) for the construction of social housing projects. And this time, the Government wants enterprises to collaborate to build more social housing projects for people with low income, particularly projects in Hà Nội. — VNS

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