Hong Kong’s Carrie Lam promises ‘housing for all’ amid protests

Oct. 16 (UPI) — Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said in her first policy address on Wednesday her government will make housing available to all city residents across income levels.

“Every Hong Kong citizen and his family will no longer have to be troubled by, or preoccupied with, the housing problem, and they will be able to have their own home in Hong Kong, a city in which we all have a share,” Lam said, according to NPR.

Lam’s statement addressed the need for better accommodations in the semi-autonomous city state, where low-income residents struggle and live in cramped conditions, or “mosquito-size units,” according to locals.

Hong Kong protesters have taken to the streets at least 400 times since early June. At least 1,100 people have been wounded and 2,200 people have been arrested, Lam said, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap’s Hong Kong correspondent.

Lam’s housing proposal could be an attempt to ease tensions in Hong Kong, where residents have criticized the chief executive for lack of transparency.

As part of Lam’s proposal, about 1,730 acres of unused private land will be set aside and redeveloped for public housing in Hong Kong’s New Territories region. The land is owned by a business conglomerate. Developers typically hoard unused land, driving up real estate prices and causing a housing shortage in the city, according to reports.

Lam also proposed education reform on Wednesday. About 900,000 Hong Kong students are to receive an annual grant of about $ 320 from the city to go toward tuition. Many of the protesters are university students who have demanded transparency from Lam.

The protests in Hong Kong prompted the U.S. House of Representatives to pass a bill supporting the protesters on Tuesday.

China criticized the decision early Wednesday, CNBC reported.

“Regarding the wrong decision of the U.S., the Chinese side will have to enact effective countermeasures, firmly safeguard Chinese sovereignty, security and development interests,” Geng Shuang, foreign ministry spokesman, said in reference to the bill.

China has previously warned the United States to stay out of Hong Kong affairs.

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