The areas, which are all owned by the State, are located in the suburban districts of 4, 6, 9, 12, Thu Duc , Binh Chanh and Cu Chi.
Trần Trọng Tuấn, director of the city’s Department of Construction, said the department had asked the city to open bidding for the projects.
However, because of cumbersome procedures and regulations, many private investors are reluctant to pour money into low-cost housing.
According to regulations, investors must use at least 20 per cent of low-cost housing for rentals, while the prices for 60 per cent of units for sale must be appraised and set by the State.
Investors can set prices for only 20 per cent of social housing, and the profit must not be above 10 per cent of the total investment.
Le Hoang Châu, chairman of the HCM City Real Estate Association, said the regulation capping investor profits from low-cost housing projects should be raised to encourage more investor interest.
Property expert Le Trong Thanh said the city should develop a policy to reward businesses for investing in low-cost housing.
The government has preferential policies for participating property firms but the investors still face problems.
Residents who want to apply to live in social housing must go through complicated and confusing procedures, and sometimes miss the application deadlines.
Do Thi Vy, 36, a worker in the informal sector, said that she could not find much information about low-cost housing invested in by the Hòang Quân Group in Binh Tan District.
“I hope the Department of Construction will extend the time to apply so that workers will have enough time to arrange the documents,” he said, adding that he had missed the deadline.
The procedures to purchase social housing are also making it difficult for workers in the formal sector as well, said Nguyen Thị Trung Tính of Binh Thanh District.
“I spent about 20 days arranging documents, and I had to wait 45 days for the results,” she said.
Hàn Ni, a worker from the central province of Thừa Thiên-Huế, said: "Buying a home is our dream, but the amount of low-cost housing is limited compared to the demand.”
About 476,000 young families in HCM city do not own a home or are living with relatives, while 156,000 low-income households, including 18,000 that were displaced to make way for local projects, did not qualify for compensation, or the compensation they received was not enough to buy housing, the city said.
By 2020, about 400,000 people will be working in three industrial parks in the city, requiring 280,000 low-cost housing units.
Last year, the city had only 40,000 new low-cost homes, meeting a mere 15 per cent of the demand.
By 2020, the city aims to build about 20,000 low-cost apartments and 35,000 others exclusively for workers at industrial parks.
The city will also ensure that enough land is available, and will offer 10-year loans to enterprises that want to invest in low-cost housing.
By 2020, the city will have policies to encourage enterprises to build low-cost apartments.