Actions speak louder than words

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Actions speak louder than words

The government under President Yoon Suk-yeol has unveiled its first housing supply measure, promising the addition of 2.7 million homes across the country over the next five years. Regulations will be lifted to facilitate supplies and the role of the private sector will be enhanced. Such direction is desirable for long-term housing stability and welfare.

The supply would be primarily led by the private sector, in contrast to the enhanced public role in the last government. There is not enough land in and around Seoul where the population is heavily concentrated. Aged housing facilities will also have to be renovated and redeveloped. The situation is different from the late 1980s and early 1990s when the Roh Tae-woo administration pursued 2 million homes through its ambitious New Town projects. Today, the public role should give way to the private sector.

Still, the latest measures have not been fine-tuned as they were hastened to meet the 100th day in office for President Yoon. The outline has been set, but specifics and an action plan has been put off. For instance, the overhaul in the safety guidelines on redeveloped facilities will be unveiled at the end of the year.

Housing supply policy must not come under political reasoning. Redevelopment of the earlier developed areas of Bundang and Ilsan were campaign issues at the last presidential and local elections. The Yoon administration plans to set a masterplan for the recreation of the first-generation New Towns in 2024. But the announcement falls in the year of parliamentary elections that year and could turn into a political issue. Housing policy must not be used for election purposes.

The government will also carry out a nationwide investigation on housing with semi-basements, the safety of which was questioned during the recent heavy flooding. Despite their poor conditions, many people live in such homes for their own reasons.

It was hasty for Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon to declare that he will get rid of such semi-basement structures in residential buildings. But such structures cannot be removed easily by a push from the city government. A better solution should be found instead of rushing with the removal.

The government must continue with stable supply to ensure housing security for the people. Housing takes a lengthy period to finish. The 2.7 million units the government announced to supply will not be finished within the current government, but only be permitted for construction. It will take longer for the apartments to be ready for inhabitance. The government must act out regulatory lifting and permits to deliver the supplies to raise confidence in public policy.
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