There is plenty of affordable housing, it’s just all in China

People go on and on about affordable housing…there is plenty available…it is just all in China where there are hundreds of thousands of empty homes just waiting for occupiers.

Wait! There’s an idea…let’s ship out the underclass to go live in China.

Over the last two years of traveling constantly in China, I can say that I have not seen a single city, town, or hamlet without massive empty housing stock. A colleague, on two trips crossing about 1,500 kilometers overland, said that he was not out of sight of empty buildings even once. Up by the Siberian border, the town of Manzhouli has decided to become a tourist resort and built thousands of empty ?villa? developments. In the southern mountains of Yunnan, a colleague took video footage of 15 kilometers unbroken of empty highrises. The ghost developments stretch along Beijing?s southern Fourth Ring and through Shanghai?s Pudong and Xuhui. The East District Zhengzhou looks like a post-apocalyptic landscape. The new districts of Harbin could earn some revenue as sets for a remake of?I Am Legend. ?

When I have been able to collect a count of all housing now available for sale, not counting projects already sold but not occupied, cities seem to average out at about 25 square meters of new housing per individual in the city, or one new dwelling for each four people. Yinchuan in Ningxia has around 200,000 units on the market, with a population of 800,000 in the city proper and 1.2 mln in the extended city. As a comparison, the United States sells about 650,000 new homes per year. The small city of Tieling in Liaoning Province has a reported 10 mln square meters of available space for a population of 400,000. Kunming, Xian, Chongqing, Hefei, Hangzhou, Haikou, Urumqi, Changchun: there is no city in the country without stretches of terrifyingly empty towers.

For those who do not believe travelers? tales, there is the Chinese government?s own report, from 2010, concluding that home ownership rates in China were then nearly 90%. This compares with a world average of 63% and a U.S. average of 65%. The report also concluded that 15% of Chinese people own more than one housing unit.

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