URUMQI, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) -- A series of housing projects in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have benefited around 10 million local residents since 2006, providing better homes for those who once lived in shabby residences.
The beneficiaries include residents who were living in rundown urban areas, herders, rural residents, as well as residents whose homes had been damaged by natural disasters such as earthquakes.
Heijiashan was once a notorious shanty town in the city of Urumqi, Xinjiang's regional capital.
"Shanties were built in a disorderly manner on the mountain. Roads were rough and would become muddy when it rained or snowed. People always poured dirty water from homes in a nearby ditch and the smell was terrible," said Zhao Shenggui, who had been living in the area for decades.
However, Zhao, in his 60s, has witnessed enormous positive changes in Heijiashan over the past few years, from dirty shanty towns to clean and tidy residential communities.
To improve locals' living standards, shacks have been rebuilt into tall buildings, with modern facilities and beautiful gardens.
Last year, more than 300,000 homes in rundown urban areas across the region were renovated. Another 470,000 homes are expected to be renovated this year, according to the regional housing and urban-rural development department.
So far this year, central and regional governments have pooled together nearly 35 billion yuan (5 billion U.S. dollars) worth of renovation funds.
Housing projects in the region not only make the residential quality in cities better, but also assist more low-income people in rural areas and ensure locals live better lives.
Abduhelil Sadir once lived in a remote village in Qaka Township, Qira County in southern Xinjiang's Hotan Prefecture. People in the village have long suffered poverty, poor transportation infrastructure and flooding.
Thanks to a relocation project funded by Tianjin Municipality, 193 households from 10 impoverished villages, including Sadir's, were relocated in July to a new village near the county seat and an industrial park.
The new village has 356 houses, each with two bedrooms and a big courtyard, to allow residents raise animals or grow fruit and vegetables as a source of income.
All 193 households have started new lives in these new homes. And they have better access to public services including education and healthcare.
To make a living, residents can either find jobs in the Qira County seat three kilometers away or in the industrial park, two kilometers away. Furthermore, each family will be given a greenhouse to grow vegetables.
"With convenient public services, job opportunities and means to make a living, the villagers will be able to actually settle down and live a better life in the new place," said Tursunjan Abdurahman, head of the new village.
Sadir moved into an 80-square-meter home with a 600-square-meter yard. He has built grape trellis and chicken and pigeon cages.
His family used to plant wheat and corn, and only earned a maximum of 6,000 yuan per year.
"Since I moved here in July, I have earned 4,000 yuan by working at a construction site nearby," Sadir said.
In Xinjiang's vast pasturing areas, preferential policies have been provided for herders including those who would like to settle, or those whose homes were damaged by natural disasters.
Funding for housing improvement projects in Xinjiang comes not only from the central and regional governments, but also from other Chinese regions that have formed partnership with Xinjiang to help its development. Total subsidies for each new home can reach up to 60,000 yuan.
From 2011 to 2017, Xinjiang built homes for 2.1 million households in rural areas. A total of 300,000 homes in rural areas are scheduled to be built this year.