On September 11-13 last year, I met more than 500 people who were living in leased apartments in Godeok, Cheongnyangni, and Gayang-dong.
My heart ached for them when they told me that they would not live in a leased apartment if they had the choice. At that time, I thought that we should work together to make each neighborhood, and particularly those consisting of permanently leased apartments, a welfare community where people can share warmhearted friendships.
In April of this year, we at Seoul Metropolitan Government announced a comprehensive measure for public leased apartments with the focus on participation, vitality, and self-reliance. We attempted to resolve the problems concerning leased apartments case by case, but this measure reflected our resolve to transform them into welfare communities where everyone wants to live.
Under the said measure, we will push ahead with thirteen major objectives, along with forty-seven detailed targets, as follows:
So far, the management of leased apartments has been monopolized by SH, but we will allow private businesses to take part in the competition system, with part of the management entrusted to the occupants themselves.
The income of most of the households living in leased apartments amounts to less than 1.5 million won a month. For them, monthly administrative expenses are a heavy burden. As such, we aim to lower these expenses by up to 30%.
So far, permanently leased apartments have been leased only to people on a low income or to disabled people. This had led to negative views about permanently leased apartments. In a bid to improve the situation and encourage greater social cohesion, newly-wed couples and households with more than three children will also be allowed to move into these apartments.
We will also provide support for programs aimed at encouraging apartment dwellers to help each other out, such as by encouraging elderly occupants to help take care of their neighbors’ children and volunteers to take part in regular security rounds. We will encourage apartment dwellers to start learning how to live together and nurture friendships.
Seoul Metropolitan Government will also provide one free meal each day to senior citizens with no one to take care of them, and increase the number of facilities for repairing assistive devices for the disabled.
Concerning households whose heads have passed away, which disqualifies them from living in a permanently leased apartment under the current criteria, we will allow households whose monthly income amounts to less than that of urban workers to continue living in their current apartment.
As regards those who are willing to find a job and earn a living without receiving outside help, we will extend the subsidy payment period from 3 to 5 years and ask the central government to provide them with a tax benefit.
Seoul Metropolitan Government will strive to enhance the quality of its welfare services in consideration of the diverse needs of the occupants of leased apartments. We will also support their efforts to transform them into welfare communities and help them to resolve their problems by fostering a sense of responsibility and ownership among them.
These measures may not resolve all of the longstanding problems with leased apartments immediately, but they will be the first step towards forging a better future as a welfare community.