Tenants fear renewal plan could leave them homeless
Residents in a cluster of Mong Kok buildings marked for redevelopment by the Urban Renewal Authority yesterday say it will be hard to find new homes given the dwindling housing options for low-income people.
The authority estimates about 300 households - crowded into 147 flats - would be affected by the HK$1.8 billion effort to replace the ageing buildings in Reclamation Street. The project would provide area residents with an additional 168 'no-frills' flats within the decade.
The authority said the project is necessary because the 50-year-old buildings are dilapidated and contain illegal rooftop structures. The authority's Calvin Lam Che-leung said the new flats would be 370 sq ft to 700 sq ft and sold at market prices.
While flat owners in the existing buildings would be compensated, tenants worry they will not be able to afford the new properties or find housing at prices comparable to what they have now.
'There's hardly any bed space out there now,' said 80-year-old welfare recipient Fong Chiu-kan, one of seven tenants in one affected flat.
He has spent 45 years in the flat and pays HK$300 a month for a bed space. He would not know where to go if the building was demolished.
Another resident worried that he might not get compensation for the illegal rooftop house he bought for HK$120,000 23 years ago.
'It's very comfortable here,' said the man, surnamed Wong, who lives in the 400 sq ft structure with his wife and daughter. 'There's no problem with the structure. I could apply for public housing, but why should I when I actually own a house?'
Flat owners would receive compensation based on the average value of seven-year-old flats in the area or they could opt for a new flat of the same price in other authority projects. Some tenants may also be eligible for ex-gratia payments or placement in public housing, said Joseph Lee King-chi, the authority's district development director.
One younger tenant, activist Chan Kim-ching, said it would be difficult for him to find a flat like the 600 sq ft one he rents now for HK$6,300 a month. 'There are fewer and fewer places like this for the grass-root class,' Chan said.
A shop owner surnamed To said he expected his business to suffer if the shop had to move.
A two-month consultation began yesterday, after which the secretary of development must decide whether to go ahead with the plan.
Residents who got homes in the nine other redevelopment projects the URA already has under way in the Yau Tsim Mong district