The South Korean government wants to convert empty hotels and office buildings into over 100,000 residential units over the next two years.
The effort is meant to address concerns among residents about rising rents and supply shortages, according to CNBC. The government wants to create 114,000 units of one-person public housing through the program.
“You all will be able to see hotels turning into affordable, high-quality, single-family homes,” said Kim Hyun-mee, minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.
It’s not the first program to address housing shortages — in the past, the government has eased height limits on buildings and converted military properties into residential neighborhoods.
Real estate market analyst Yeo Kyoung-hui described “a sense of desperation” over the housing shortage facing the country, and said the move “could be the fastest way to increase home supplies.”
But Yeo added the focus on home supply for one-person households “could disappoint families with children, who are at the center of the home shortage crisis and are struggling just as hard to find affordable homes.”
Many U.S. cities and states are dealing with affordability issues related to a lack of supply, most notably California, which has for years struggled to address the growing problem.
In Seoul, one 28-year-old office worker living with her parents said the stigma of public housing would keep her and maybe others from renting units created through the program.
“The government knows there is a social stigma on people living in public housing. I refuse to move into one whether it’s a fancy hotel or not,” she said.
Like many places around the globe, South Korea’s real estate market has been upended by the pandemic, although the country’s response to Covid has been one of the most effective in the world at keeping the number of cases in check. [CNBC] — Dennis Lynch