Flower pots no bed of roses for homeless

Concrete pots installed along Yau Ma Tei flyover as street sleepers face eviction

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 03 May, 2013, 5:40am

About 200 concrete flower pots have been installed along a section of a Yau Ma Tei flyover to "keep street sleepers out", according to a district council document.

The pots have been installed as part of "greening works" costing HK$2.53 million. As a result of those works, about 20 people who sleep under the Ferry Street flyover have been issued notices to move elsewhere by Tuesday.

Yesterday, a handful of street sleepers and their supporters marched from the flyover to the Henry G Leong Yau Ma Tei Community Centre for talks with representatives from three government departments, which they described as "extremely unsatisfactory".

"The plans will still go ahead," social worker Ng Wai-tung of the Society for Community Organisation, who organised the talks, said. "The government guaranteed it won't seal the area off if there are still people there but it is still not willing to take up responsibility and help the homeless find housing," he said.

Four of the street sleepers are seeking legal aid for court action against the eviction.

The Ferry Street works are separate from a bigger project costing HK$32 million to transform the spaces under Yau Ma Tei flyovers, with suggestions including a park for pets and mini-car racing course. That amount would come from the HK$100 million government funding given as a one-off grant to each district council for minor works.

Councillor Chris Ip Ngo-tung said the move took into account the street sleepers, the public and the area's future development. "We've had complaints about the street sleepers, and heard about bad habits like drugs," he said. "We believe this move will resolve the problems." But apart from evicting them, Ip confirmed that no efforts had been made to help the homeless people living in the area.

There is no mention in the council documents of how the street sleepers would be relocated when the renovation starts.

People have lived under the Ferry Street flyover for more than a decade.