Purchasing a social house near impossible for low-income Hanoi workers

By Hong Chieu   October 12, 2023 | 02:29 am PT
Purchasing a social house near impossible for low-income Hanoi workers
A social housing complex in Hanoi's Dong Anh District, September 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Xuan Hoa
Workers in Hanoi with an average monthly salary at VND7 million ($286) cannot afford a social house that costs VND1.5-2 billion, a Hanoi labor confederation representative said Wednesday.

"This income cannot afford daily costs of living amid high prices, especially for families with small children," Ta Van Duong, head of the legal policy and labor relations department at the Hanoi Confederation of Labor, told the press.

Duong said the continuous waves of layoffs over the past year have caused workers' incomes to continually decrease. By the third quarter of this year, several businesses in textile, leather and wood still had low numbers of orders.

There are around 2.7 million workers at 270,000 businesses in the capital, 80% of whom coming from outside of Hanoi. Industrial parks alone have 165,000 workers, and housing is the most pressing concern for them.

The representative of the Hanoi labor confederation said the worker's housing neighborhood in Kim Chung of Dong Anh District, for example, has only been able to meet 30% of workers' demands, while 70% have to rent outside of the complex.

The housing complex still has several empty rooms, but either workers cannot afford them or they are improperly designed. For instance, a room for 20 workers only has one toilet.

Duong said the labor confederation has received several feedbacks from workers, who hope for amendments to the Law on Housing so that low-income people can afford houses at more reasonable prices. The required conditions for purchasing homes also need to be changed, as such policies have already been outdated for those on low-incomes.

Ha Dong, head of the propaganda department of the Hanoi labor confederation, said that for workers to do their jobs in the city, authorities need to take into account their needs like housing, kindergartens and other cultural institutions, besides incomes. Industrial parks currently lack entertainment venues for workers due to limited land funds and resources.

"In the future, when new industrial parks are created, the city needs to reserve part of its land funds to build these institutions, improving quality of life for workers so they would stick with the city," Dong said.

In August, a survey by the Institute of Workers and Trade Union on 3,000 workers in Hanoi, HCMC, Hai Phong, and three provinces Phu Tho, An Giang, and Binh Duong, revealed that workers' average monthly income is currently around VND7.88 million. A total of 77% comes from basic salary, while the rest comes from overtime pay and benefits.

Only 24.5% of workers said they have enough income to afford daily living costs. Many have to work side jobs to keep themselves afloat. Low incomes are the main factor for 72% of workers regarding whether they can have a family of their own.

Surveys by the labor confederation over the last two years revealed that only around 10% of workers have savings, and their current incomes only satisfy up to 80% of their spending.

As such, owning a home in Hanoi is a huge hurdle for many workers in the capital, taking dozens of years.

The prices of social homes in Hanoi have nearly doubled over the last five years, while requirements to purchase them have already been outdated, making it even more difficult for workers in industrial parks to afford one.

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