Chinese Officials Claim Thousands of Victim Relief Apartments as Private Property

January 20, 2007 Updated: January 20, 2007

Local officials in Pengze County in Jiangxi Province have claimed the housing units built for disaster victims of a flood eight years ago as their private property, and have left the displaced victims without provided housing.

Higher authorities of the Chinese communist regime had granted 140 million yuan (USD $17.9) to rebuild the damages of the flood and to build housing units for the victims.

On January 13, First Chinese Business Daily reported that besides the 900 apartments built in the town, there should be another 6,000 apartments for the victims built by the fund. If the construction of the apartments was well planned, the production cost would have been less than 10,000 yuan (USD$1,280) per building, which means the fate of a large amount of money is unknown.

Liu Junchu, the chief of Construction Department of Pengze County, claims that 7,000 displaced victims benefit from the housing construction project. However, a retired official disclosed that the residents who are living in the apartments are actually people with power in the community. He claims that stealing disaster victims' apartments is a public secret in the local area.

It is reported that 80 percent of the 500 residents listed on the third housing project are related to local authorities, while the majority of the 400 residents of the fourth project are teachers and businessmen.

Mr. Huang, who is living in Yuanminghu neighborhood, admitted that he was not a victim of the disaster. Huang received a house quota from a relative serving in the local office, which allowed him to purchase a 100 square meters house for less than 30,000 yuan (USD$3,850). Huang later sold the house for 40,000 yuan (~$5,130) and bought an even better apartment from another relative.

Mr. Huang also disclosed that his relatives are not displaced victims either. They all obtained apartments through the “help” of a local official. He claimed that most of the local residents are not listed on the victims roster.

According to the report, some of the officials first over reported the number of victims, then transferred the ownership quota to their own or their relatives' accounts. Because the number of victims was over reported, there are more people who have illegally purchased apartments than the number of victims.

The reporter of First Chinese Business Daily revealed that the real victims are those from the Yangze River who lived under the 20-meter water level line. The apartments they bought are constructed in rural area, and the quality of most of the houses is too inferior to live in.

A villager of Pengze County said all of their apartments are mass-built and therefore have low quality, and they have to repair them before they move in. He also said, “I have to spend a lot of money on the reparation.” His “new” victim housing unit has been left unfinished for some time.

A staff member of the local public security bureau said that the manager of the victims housing project practice reported false numbers when he applied for funding from the state. Reports of the scandal have been reported to the officials, but the issue was not looked after properly.