Youth hostel to hire underprivileged for heritage site

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 February, 2009, 12:00am

The Youth Hostels Association will give priority to the underprivileged when the social enterprise recruits staff for Mei Ho House, a heritage site in Shek Kip Mei that was selected for the revitalisation scheme.

'We need people to work in the hostel's canteen, laundry and convenience store. We will partner with other NGOs, such as the Employees Retraining Board, to recruit among single parents, unemployed youths and people from low-income families,' executive committee member Anthony Chan Tung-shan said.

The project would create 42 full-time jobs and 63 part-time posts once it opens, he said.

The YHA will form an 'alumni' network consisting of former residents of the Shek Kip Mei public housing estate, the first of its kind in Hong Kong. Staff will gather oral history, photos of the building and old furniture from residents. Visitors to the hostel will also be invited to join the family.

With a government grant of HK$190 million for renovation, the organisation will turn one of the first Hong Kong public housing estate blocks into a hostel with 124 rooms, each with a toilet.

Room rates will exceed HK$100 per head, unlike those in other YHA hostels, in the New Territories. The association said this was because of the urban location.

Some rooms with special features, such as preserved iron gates seen on old public housing estates, will cost more.

The ground-floor areas and some of the first-floor flats will become a museum showcasing artefacts from public housing estates of the 1950s and 1960s, and also a communal kitchen. A backyard will become an open-air cafe or venue for community activities.

The structure that connects two parallel blocks, making an H-shaped complex, will be demolished because of structural deterioration. A new, similar structure will replace it and have a lift for use by the disabled.

The refurbished hostel is expected to open in 2012.