DP bill would limit home ownership to one per household

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DP bill would limit home ownership to one per household

Rep. Jin Sung-joon of the Democratic Party.  [YONHAP]

Rep. Jin Sung-joon of the Democratic Party. [YONHAP]

A group of lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Party (DP) are pushing legislation to limit home ownership to one per household.  
DP Rep. Jin Sung-joon said Tuesday that he has submitted a bill to the National Assembly on Monday to revise the Framework Act on Residence. Another 11 lawmakers from the DP co-sponsored his bill.
The lawmakers say their proposal is intended to restore social justice in housing.  
They also want to stipulate in the law that homes must be supplied first to those who plan to actually live in them. The lawmakers also want to revise the law to prevent homes from being used for speculation or as a means to increase wealth.  
According to Jin, there were 9.57 million housing units nationwide in 1995, and the number grew to 20.82 million by 2018. While the housing supply ratio increased from 73.9 percent to 104.2 percent during the period, home ownership only went up by 4.5 percentage points, from 53.5 percent to 58 percent, Jin said.  
He also said the number of people who own just one home went up from 1.04 million in 2012 to 1.18 million in 2018, an increase of 13.7 percentage points. Meanwhile, the number of owners of multiple homes went up from 160,000 to 220,000, an increase of 34.4 percentage points, indicating that inequality of home ownership has worsened.  
“I want to make clear that homes are not a means to increase assets or speculate with,” Jin said. “I want to stipulate in the law the grand principle of housing policy, that one household owns one home, and use this as a basis to guarantee the people’s right to a home and reduce wealth inequality.”  
The proposed bill, however, does not include any punishment for owning more than one home. It could be used as a basis for future government actions to penalize owners of multiple homes with measures such as higher tax rates or purchase restrictions.  
Experts raised concerns that the bill is unconstitutional.
“The right to property is one of the basic rights guaranteed in the Constitution,” said Lee In-ho, law professor of Chung-Ang University. “Whether there will be punishment or not, it will be used as grounds for a policy and affect society, but the proposed revision completely ignores the concept of property rights protected by the Constitution.”  
The DP has also faced criticism over the fact that some of its lawmakers own multiple homes, despite the party’s public pledge that all its representatives will sell off extra homes. According to the DP, 16 of its 174 lawmakers still owned multiple homes as of last month.  
It’s not the first time that Jin, a two-term lawmaker, has sparked a controversy related to housing policy. In July, he admitted that housing prices won’t be curbed despite frantic efforts by the government in a hot mic blunder on television station MBC, fueling public outcry over the Moon Jae-in administration’s inability to cool off the real estate market.
Jin had been participating in a 100-minute debate hosted by the broadcaster on the effectiveness of the government’s measures to cool the real estate market. After the program ended, Jin and another panelist, former lawmaker Kim Hyun-ah of the conservative opposition party, continued to discuss the issues, apparently unaware that they were still being broadcast on YouTube.  
“It will be too much of a burden on the economy when [real estate prices] plummet, so we shouldn’t force it too much,” Kim said.  
“No matter what we do, [prices] won’t go down,” Jin replied. “This is not a new problem.”
The hot mic moment prompted internet viewers to question the integrity of the ruling party and the administration. They said the government and the DP are pushing radical policies despite having no faith in their effectiveness.  
BY SER MYO-JA   [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]  
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