Crackdown on illegal housing risks making tenants homeless

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 March, 2012, 12:00am


One in five families living in subdivided flats in the city's rundown districts could become homeless following a government crackdown, activists say.

They have urged the government to rehouse affected residents in public rental flats. They said they would camp outside the polling venue for next weekend's chief executive election to demand action from Hong Kong's next leader.

The coalition of concerned groups said its members had visited 200 families living in partitioned flats in Sham Shui Po, Mong Kok and To Kwa Wan last month. They found that 20 per cent faced eviction because of a government crackdown on illegal building works.

The crackdown was triggered by public concerns after the fatal fire in Mong Kok last November, which left nine people dead.

Labourer Raymond Ho said his family of four had lived in a partitioned flat in Sham Shui Po for five years. The flat was dangerous, but they couldn't afford better than the small HK$3,000-a-month unit.

'The fire exit has been sealed off and converted into a flat,' Ho said. 'We want to move, but we can't afford to rent elsewhere.'

Six out of 10 cubicle units surveyed have their fire escapes blocked. Nearly 90 per cent of the families are on the waiting list for public housing.

The average waiting time is six to seven years. That is double the government's promised waiting time of three years.

'The government is not solving the problem but making the life of needy families harder,' coalition spokesman Chan Wai-lim said.