Factory dwellers appeal for inclusion in Community Care Fund subsidy
Care fund chiefs hear plea for help, while others seek shorter wait for public flats and property agents protest at downturn
Lo Wei and Stuart Lau
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Despite measures to cool the property market and help poor people since last July, housing remains a severe social problem for Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's administration.
Two groups of inadequately housed people appealed for help yesterday.
Families living in illegally subdivided industrial buildings or on factory roofs said they are being denied a Community Care Fund (CCF) subsidy given to people living in subdivided flats in residential buildings.
They appealed to members of the fund's task force for help, saying they could not afford legal housing.
In a 70 square foot home on the roof of a Kwun Tong industrial building, Fung Kit-hin, 57, poured out his woes to CCF task force members Michael Tien Puk-sun and Peter Cheung Kwok-che.
The part-time porter - who lives with his wife and daughter, eight - hopes to receive a one-off HK$8,000 CCF subsidy for inadequately housed low-income families even though his home is illegal. "It would ease our financial pressure. I just hope for compassion," he said.
Fung said his income was unstable and the subsidy would cover about three months' rent. In the long run, he hoped for government measures to help his family move to a better place.
Tien and Cheung said they would try to persuade other CCF members to extend help to such families. "I didn't speak out on this before, but now that I have come here to learn about the situation, I will," said Tien.
The Society for Community Organisation estimates there are at least 10,000 such families living in industrial buildings.
Meanwhile, another group of people with housing problems took to the streets yesterday.
Those in the queue for public housing said they were fed up, with some having waited for as long as 10 years. They called for the resumption of rent controls, as many were forced to lease cramped subdivided housing with monthly rents as high as HK$40 per square foot.
Also taking to the streets yesterday were thousands of real estate agents. They marched from Victoria Park to the government headquarters in Admiralty to protest against a government attempt to cool the market by imposing additional stamp duties on property purchases.
Among them was Centaline Group director Shih Wing-ching. "My company's business has dropped almost 65 per cent," he complained. Midland Holdings managing director Pierre Wong Tsz-wa said the government's policy direction was wrong.
While the number of transactions had fallen, property prices had not, he said.
Responding to the protest, a government spokesman said the measures were subject to review when normal market conditions returned. The measures were "in line with broad social interests", he said.