Scheme for overcrowding relief 'inefficient, unfair'
By BILLY WONG WAI-YUK
THE system used to find new homes for families living in overcrowded conditions is unfair and inefficient, the ombudsman has ruled.
He said the Housing Department's system had no comprehensive action plan or strategy.
'There is no clear objective, time-frame or target to implement the policy,' said Andrew So Kwok-wing, whose formal title is the Commissioner for Administrative Complaints.
'There is an inherent element of luck in the scheme in that the chances of getting relief depend on the availability of vacant flats on the applicants' particular floor or block or estate,' said Mr So.
The three-month investigation found empty flats were not being effectively used, the number of reserved vacant flats was excessive and the average duration of vacancy was unduly long - more than six months.
The number of overcrowded households had dropped from 112,000 in 1990-91 to 51,000 in 1994-95. The investigation, however, discovered the reduction was greater among the least overcrowded households.
Mr So said his report was only a draft and further details would be released when the final report came out.
He said his office had provisionally made 14 recommendations.
The main one was for the Housing Department to conduct a review of the arrangement to make it fair, equitable and consistent and to give priority on the degree of overcrowding.
The investigation draft report was forwarded to the department early last month. The department announced on June 23 a new scheme to relieve overcrowding which takes effect this month.
The ombudsman is studying the new scheme to see whether it is compatible with the recommendations made by his office. He expected to announce the final report before September.
A spokesman for the Department said officials would continue to co-operate with the ombudsman.
Under the new scheme, a list of overcrowded families, drawn up according to the degree of overcrowding, will be supplied to respective estate offices each month. The tenants will be asked whether they wish to move.
Preference of allocation will be given to long-term tenants and those at the top of the list. Refurbishment of vacant flats will also be speeded up.