Workers’ housing flawed, overcrowded

Update: November, 12/2016 - 09:00
Low-cost apartment buildings for workers in Thăng Long Industrial Zone in Kim Chung Commune, Hà Nội’s Đông Anh District. — VNA/VNS Photo Hoàng Lâm
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — Designs flaws in low-cost housing for workers at Hà Nội’s Bắc Thăng Long Industrial Zone are blamed for a high rate of unused apartments and dire need of employee housing.

Trần Anh Dũng of the Low-cost Housing Development and Management Company,  which manages housing in Bắc Thăng Long Industrial Zone, said hundreds of applications for housing rentals have been received, but more than 20 per cent of two five-story apartment buildings were still unused since being made available for rent two years ago.

Companies operating in the industrial zone are also seeking fewer apartments for their single workers, who do not want to live in such unfit conditions . For example, Canon wants to rent six apartment blocks instead of 11 as it did previously, Nissei wants one block instead of five, Panasonic wants one block instead of three.

Dũng said that workers were not interested in such housing. For example, each apartment is deigned to house from 18 to 24 single workers, with only one bathroom.

Workers pay VNĐ120,000 (US$ 5.3) monthly,  meaning that each apartment costs VNĐ 2.2 million ($98.5) to VNĐ2.9 million ($130).

That is far higher than what workers pay for a 48-sq.m family apartment - VNĐ1.2 million monthly - and VNĐ 1.33 million for a 54 sq.m family apartment.

Trần Thị Mai Hoa, a worker for Denso Việt Nam Ltd Company, said she was happy to rent a 54-sq.m apartment in Kim Chung Low-cost Housing Block, paying about VNĐ1.4 million monthly for the apartment with a living room, a kitchen, two bedrooms and a bathroom.

“It’s enough for us – a couple with two children and an elderly relative,” she said. “My husband and I used to pay VNĐ 800,000 ($ 36) per month for a room with area of less than 12 sq.m,” she said, adding that the room was too narrow that they have to send their kid to their parents.

When compared with family apartments, those for single persons are much less attractive.

Dũng from the housing management department said his company was considering proposing to the Hà Nội People’s Committee to redesign the apartments, divide them into smaller ones for families or single workers.

However, extra costs including power lines, water pipes were too high, Dũng said.

Ngọ Duy Hiểu, National Assembly deputy of Hà Nội, said demand for low-cost housing among workers was huge, not only in Hà Nội but across the country.

According to the Ministry of Construction, Việt Nam currently has 2.2 million people working in industrial parks but only 20 percent of them have their own homes. In Hà Nội, there are about 140,000 workers, 70 per cent of whom are migrants needing to rent houses.

Workers have to rent expensive poor-quality accommodations because they cannot access low-cost housing projects which, to some extent, are subsidised by the Government through preferential policies, he said.

“Low-cost housing should not be just a place to sleep. Workers work hard, even take night shifts. Poor quality accommodations surely have a  negative effect on their health and productivity,” he said.

Hiểu said developers usually complain about low profits of  low-cost housing projects, and urged joint efforts by the Government and private sector to ensure better housing for workers.

Ngô Chí Hùng, vice head of Hà Nội Industrial and Processing Zones Management Board, said that low-cost housing projects in Thăng Long Industrial Zone could offer housing for about 23,000 workers, but just 6,000 workers moved there because workers could not afford rental rates. — VNS