“We know that Party Secretary Đinh La Thăng is concerned about how to build social houses worth VNĐ100 million (US$4,500) each like those built in Bình Dương Province. So, we want to know, when we will have this kind of house?” Nguyễn Thị Cẩm Ly, a worker from Khải Hoàn Company, asked.
Ly said that many workers had moved to work in HCM City, but still could not afford to buy a house after many years.
“I earn VNĐ4.8 million ($210) each month. After spending, I can only save VNĐ1 million ($45). Right now, housing prices in HCM City in the outskirts are at least VNĐ1 billion ($45,000) each. How can we afford to buy a house?” said Nguyễn Thị Quyên, a worker at Đỉnh Cao Limited Company.
The chairwoman of the city’s People’s Council, Nguyễn Thị Quyết Tâm, asked Quyên if she had ever thought about long-term renting.
“Most of us have to rent. If you’re single, it can be affordable, but if we have a family, it takes half of our income,” Quyên said.
Quyên said that most workers would like the city to support them in buying social housing.
Trần Trọng Tuấn, director of the city’s Construction Department, said the city has over 40,000 accommodations for workers, which only meets 15 per cent of demand.
“We estimate there are around 100,000 workers who have to live in slum accommodations,” Tuấn said.
He said the city was building 30 social housing projects with a total of 45,000 apartments, and, by 2020, 30,000 social housing units would be completed with varying prices, social conveniences and locations.
Tuấn said the city was able to build a VNĐ100 million ($4,500) social housing unit, but only if the city did not have to invest in land and infrastructure such as roads, electricity supply, water supply and trees.
“The Construction Department has submitted sites to build social units worth VNĐ100 million but such places should be close to industrial parks to serve workers,” Tuấn added.
Worker representatives also complained about the low-quality meals served at their companies.
“We would like authorities to increase their inspections of food quality for workers and set up more mini-marts around industrial and processing zones,” Bùi Cẩm Tiên of Thắng Lợi Ltd. company said.
In addition, workers said they needed schools and daycare for their children.
“It is difficult for us to send our children to school nearby or to move them from our native province to HCM City,” Phan Thị Liên, a worker from Việt Nam Fan Company, said.
Tâm said the Construction Department would speed up social housing projects by reforming its administrative procedures.
She told officials in the departments of Education and Vocational Training, Healthcare and Social Insurance to ensure that workers received more information about government policies.
She also asked the city’s Labour Union to work closely with the Food Safety Commission to supervise food quality in and around industrial and processing zones.