China's central government plans to spend 115.8 billion yuan (18.8 billion U.S. dollars) on affordable housing this year, according to a report in Sunday's 21st Century Business Herald. The special fund includes subsidies for low-rent housing, public rental departments and shanty-town renovation. The figure is an increase of 14.3 percent from the money channelled to those programs last year, said the paper. Subsidized housing programs have been high on the government agenda in recent years as skyrocketing home prices in major cities have pushed many out of the market. The government work report released earlier this year pledged to improve the affordable housing system and set a target to begin construction on more than seven million units, including 4.7 million for people living in shanty shelters.