Sunday, 20 July 2014

Affordable and Social Housing in China

To set the context, let's start with a quote from Tony Ho, Deputy Director of RICS North Asia and Chair of the RICS Future Cities Summit 2014:

'By 2020, urban population will account for 60% of China’s total population and more than 200 million people are expected to move to cities or towns. The surge in population will bring unprecedented challenges to urban construction. Although China’s urbanisation is progressing rapidly, it is a relatively complex process. To build a ‘livable’ city that is socially pluralistic and culturally vibrant and to promote urbanisation as the next engine of economic growth, China must work towards improving the quality of urban construction, constantly optimising and improving the administrative, economic and social functions of the city to bring more tangible benefits to people’s lives.' 

Photo courtesy of the RICS

Albert Cao, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Real Estate and Construction attended the RICS Future Cities Summit that was held in Shanghai on 17/18 June 2014. The Summit explored views and aspirations on how future cities should be planned, built and managed. Presentations and panel discussions also covered the integration of mixed-use commercial properties and transportation, value-added asset management, livable cities and BIM application.


Albert in action - photo courtesy of Sina

Albert was there to launch the latest RICS research report 'More doesn't mean better: inefficiencies in China's affordable and social housing sector.' The report, completed by Albert Cao and Ramin Keivani (also from REC) in January 2014, was funded by the RICS. Based on intensive fieldwork in Guangzhou and Wuhan, two major cities in China, this research investigated the inefficiencies resulting from incomplete institutional and funding arrangements in China’s massive affordable and social housing program. The results show that while local innovations and central government policies are creating conditions to improve efficiency, further institutional and funding reforms are required to address affordable and social housing requirements in the country in the long run. Recommendations include:

  • Further development of the institutional framework to clearly define the rights and obligations of local governments, management staff and tenants
  • Reforming the funding formula to provide certainty to local governments of support from the central government commitment and other sources
  • Introducing third party provision in China’s affordable and social housing sector to offer choices to tenants.

Albert was able to share the key findings and suggestions at the Summit which was attended by over 200 delegates: the research findings are of relevance to practitioners, policy makers and academics interested in addressing the difficulties faced by China’s ASH sector. You can take a look at the full report on the RICS website.

The presentation and report were also well received by China’s media and professional bodies and Albert was invited for interview by 6 media groups - the interviews can be found here:



The RICS Hong Kong Branch invited Albert to make a presentation on the research as part of their CPD section - two of the 60 attendants were former graduates of the Department of Real Estate and Construction at Oxford Brookes. An interview on the report will also appear in a future edition of the RICS Modus magazine and an academic paper based on the report will be written later this year.

For more information contact: Dr Albert Cao at the Department of Real Estate and Construction, Oxford Brookes University.





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