The bathroom/kitchen of an tiny apartment in a "Tong Lau" in the Kowloon area in Hong Kong on September 2. (Photo: Global Times)
New World Development, one of the Hong Kong's big four property conglomerates, announced it will donate 3 million square feet (270,000 sq m) of farmland - nearly one-fifth of its farmland holdings - to build new homes amid Hong Kong's housing crisis which has been partially blamed for the violent protests of recent months.
The company's Executive Vice-Chairman Adrian Cheng Chi-kong announced the donation after releasing the company's annual financial results in Hong Kong on Wednesday.
Cheng said that part of the donation will be used to build roughly 100 apartments around Tin Shui Wai MTR station, aiming to assist low-income families with children. The project is to be completed in 2022, according to a statement the company sent to the Global Times via email on Thursday.
New World Development initiated the housing project two years ago, and it hopes to make tangible contributions to Hong Kong's economic recovery and help solve the livelihood issue.
The company's owner belongs to one of the "Big Four" families in Hong Kong. Notable members include Li Ka-shing, the retired chairman of CK Hutchison Holdings; Cheng Yu-tung of New World Development; Lee Shau-kee of Henderson Land Development; and Kwok Tak-seng of Sun Hung Kai Properties.
Those four companies have been under the spotlight amid the ongoing social unrest, as they were accused by the public of driving up home prices, an issue that has fueled the violent protests in the city.
Housing is one of Hong Kong's most challenging social issues. The average residential property costs $1.24 million, industry firm CBRE Group said in a report released in April.
Hung Kam-in, vice chairman of the Kwun Tong District Council in Hong Kong, told the Global Times Thursday that locals welcomed New World Development's move, especially during the current social unrest.
Hung said that he hoped it will encourage other developers and Hong Kong enterprises to show social responsibility to Hong Kong's future development and care for the city's young people.
Earlier this month, Raymond Kwok, chairman of another Hong Kong housing giant, Sun Hung Kai Properties, said he understood that there was a great shortage of affordable housing in Hong Kong and he would like to accelerate housing construction projects.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said that Hong Kong's current problems go well beyond the extradition bill. She said she would listen to people's views including deep-seated concerns such as housing and land shortage issues during dialogue sessions. Her first community dialogue session is scheduled for Thursday evening.