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China vice premier seeks to ensure supply of low-cost homes

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng on Monday called for putting the country's affordable housing under "strict closed management" and prohibiting it from being listed for trading, in a bid to help shore up the long-term supply of low-cost homes.

Beijing has been taking steps to increase the supply of affordable housing in recent years as high housing costs in major cities shut out many young buyers.

An official at the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development said last year that China would add 6.5 million new low-cost rental units in 40 major cities in 2021-2025.

But the situation has become more acute as a weakening economy hurts job prospects and incomes, undermining the ability of ordinary people to fund home purchases.

The supply of low-cost housing has also been eroded by sales of such homes after a few years when they are allowed to be listed for sale in resale markets.

The planning and construction of affordable housing help alleviate housing difficulties in big cities and boost investment and consumption, Vice Premier He told a conference in Beijing.

Describing the construction of affordable housing as a "difficult and complex" systematic project, He urged strict management and cost control while maintaining a reasonable pace of construction, according to Xinhua.

He also stressed the need for a fair and just distribution mechanism, so that low-cost houses can be allocated with small profit to groups including low-wage earners.

(Reporting by Ryan Woo and Ethan Wang in Beijing, Meg Shen in Hong Kong; Editing by Alex Richardson and Nick Macfie)