Property giant New World Development has announced it is donating three million square feet of agricultural land to society to try and ease the city’s housing shortage.

The company’s executive vice-chairman and general manager, Adrian Cheng, said the firm intends to hand over land to the government for public housing and related facilities, as well as to NGOs or charities to develop social or transitional housing.

He stressed the decision has nothing to do with recent calls for the government to use the Land Resumption Ordinance to get new housing sites, saying New World simply wants to assume more social responsibility.

Mainland media had also targeted Hong Kong developers recently, blaming them for creating a housing shortage and paving the way for runaway property prices.

Among the donated land, Cheng said around 28,000 square feet in Tin Shui Wai is intended to be given to the social enterprise ‘Light Be’ which runs an affordable social housing project.

It also matches landlords who are willing to rent their properties at 30 to 50 percent of the market rate with low-income families and single mothers.

Cheng said they have been in talks with the social enterprise for over a year, and the company can allocate another 1 million square feet of land to ‘Light Be’ if necessary.

The founder and CEO of Light Be, Ricky Yu, said the land it received is to be developed into a housing project to provide 100 apartments and will be finished by 2022.

The announcement from New World Development came as the group recorded a profit of HK$18.16 billion for the year ending in June, down 22% from a year earlier.

It announced a final dividend of 37 cents per share and it attributed the drop in profit to the global economic downturn, saying it posed considerable risks and challenges to its business.

Looking ahead, the company said downward pressure on the Hong Kong economy is also expected to take its toll on the company.