HCMC residents refuse to leave deteriorating apartment building

By Le Tuyet   January 8, 2023 | 01:16 am PT
HCMC residents refuse to leave deteriorating apartment building
Ha Thi Bay's family's apartment at 440 Tran Hung Dao building in District 5, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/Le Tuyet
Residents of a deteriorating apartment building are refusing to leave their homes and move to a new building as they do not know how much they will be compensated for their loss.

The three-floor building, located at 440 Tran Hung Dao Street in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 5, which was built before 1975, is home to 20 households. The HCMC Construction Department in 2017 said that the building was at risk of collapsing and urgently needed to be demolished.

District 5 authorities offered to move each household to 80-square-meter apartments in An Phu Building in District 6, where they would be allowed to live rent-free for at least two years.

Those households who agree to move early will be "rewarded" with VND50 million ($2,083). The cost of moving will also be paid for by the government.

However, the residents did not agree with the plan as they or have not been told how much they’ll be compensated yet for losing their homes.

Ha Thi Bay and four other family members have been living in the building for over 40 years. They use their 20-square-meter apartment to make garment products, and most of the time the inventory fills up the entire apartment, leaving them little space to even move around.

"I know this is a deteriorating place, and I want to move, but the government has not offered us compensation for five years."

Bay said that the new apartment is bigger but that she will not own it. After a two-year rent-free period, if the district still has not decided on a compensation rate, her family will not have a place to live as their current building will have already been demolished.

"From being a homeowner I will become homeless," she said, adding that with their low income her family cannot afford to pay rent anywhere else.

The 440 Tran Hung Dao apartment building in District 5, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/Le Tuyet

The 440 Tran Hung Dao apartment building in District 5, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/Le Tuyet

Tran Nghieng Nhan, who has been living in his 16-square-meter apartment since before 1975, said that she will not move unless she knows how much the city will compensate her for her apartment.

Even if she gets the VND50 million bonus, that would only cover her rent elsewhere for one year. After that, she has no idea where she would be able to live with just VND4 million in monthly income.

Nguyen Xuan Trung, deputy chairman of District 5, said that although there are laws requiring the authorities to relocate people living in deteriorating buildings to protect their lives, there are no laws that specify how much compensation should be given people being relocated.

The 440 Tran Hung Dao building covers 170 square meters, which is too small to attract a property developer, and so after it is demolished, the land will be too small to build a new apartment building.

The district has proposed two compensation options to the city and is awaiting approval.

Trung said that the district authorities are between a rock and a hard place as they want to ensure safety for the residents but cannot move them out unless a compensation rate is approved.

As of 2021, HCMC had 474 old apartment buildings built before 1975, 14 of which need to be demolished urgently for safety reasons.

The 440 Tran Hung Dao building is one of seven deteriorating buildings that cannot be reconstructed. The city has proposed to the Ministry of Construction that households in these buildings be relocated to another building using public funds, while the site of the old building is auctioned off.

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