Low-income housing sees low turnover since 1990s

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Low-income housing sees low turnover since 1990s

Almost 70 percent of Korean public housing residents who moved in since the 1990s still live in the same home two decades later, which is preventing new people from coming in, data from the government showed Monday.

According to data from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and the Korea Land and Housing Corporation (LH), a total of 575,626 families have moved into public housing since 1990, and 69 percent of them have not moved since. The information was requested by Lee No-keun, a Saenuri Party lawmaker and housing committee member.

Some 47,000 families were on a waiting list for public housing as of last year according to data from the Land Ministry. On average, a family must wait 21 months before a home becomes available.

“Public rental houses, which are usually rented out at a lower rate and with a smaller deposit than privately owned houses for low-income families and new workers fresh out of school, have numerous people in the waiting list to apply,” Lee said. “The government should come up with a solution to provide fair opportunities to those people who need public housing.”

Analysts say the statistics show that it is difficult for residents of public housing to find an affordable private home to rent due to escalating prices.

Seoul and Gyeonggi had the highest number of people who had lived in the same public housing unit for at least five years. About 75 percent of Seoul public apartment residents had lived there for at least five years, as had 74 percent of Gyeonggi public apartment dwellers.

However, analysts say this is also a sign that some workers who are not in the low-income bracket are living in the units, which violates regulations.

As of 2014, only non-homeowners with a household income of less than 70 percent of the Korean average - 3.3 million won ($3,000) a month for a three-person household - were eligible to apply for a public housing unit. The families are supposed to undergo eligibility screening every two years to renew their contract, at which point over-earners must move out.

However, according to Land Ministry data, 2,624 households were found to be over-earners living in public houses in 2013, showing a continuous increase from 319 households in 2010, 1,249 households in 2011 and 1,704 in 2012.

The ministry decided to tighten its eligibility criteria before July to look into all of the assets owned by a head of a household. The current screening process only verifies monthly income, cars, buildings and land.

To stop over-earners from living in public housing, residents who earn more than 70 percent of an average household income will be subject to an increase in rent.

BY KIM JI-YOON [jiyoon.kim@joongang.co.kr]

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