• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 10:00pm
NewsHong Kong

Tenants in factory buildings to get subsidies

Needy families will now get one-off allowance after earlier being rejected on legal grounds

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 August, 2013, 8:20pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 August, 2013, 4:56am

About 5,000 needy families living in illegally converted subdivided units in factory buildings can expect a one-off allowance of up to HK$10,000 under a policy U-turn that in effect asks officers to turn a blind eye to the unlawful alterations.

The scheme was endorsed at a Commission on Poverty meeting yesterday where members were briefed on how a possible legal loophole could be used to make those tenants, who are otherwise denied, eligible for the living allowance, to be distributed under the government's Community Care Fund. They had earlier been deemed ineligible because people are not allowed to live in industrial buildings.

But commission members in general were convinced that the U-turn was in line with the spirit of the fund, which is to help needy people who are not receiving public assistance or living in public rental housing.

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who chairs the commission, maintained there was no question of an amnesty.

"Fund officers will advise those families to find another place to move if it is found that they may be living in [illegally converted subdivided flats in industrial buildings]," Lam said.

She maintained inspection and prosecution by the Buildings Department would continue.

The cash allowance scheme will give needy families in inadequate housing payments of HK$3,500 to HK$10,000.

It was endorsed by the commission last month but those in illegally converted industrial buildings were excluded because of legal concerns. Pressure groups argued this was unfair.

"Even if the flats are illegally converted, the one who should be held responsible is the landlord, not his tenants," commission member and Community Care Fund task force chairman Dr Law Chi-kwong said. "So, we are convinced that the tenants should also be eligible for the allowance."

But Polytechnic University political scientist Dr Chung Kim-wah argued that it could give a confusing message to the public.

"On the one hand the government says it will not tolerate illegal building alterations. On the other hand it is giving money to those living there."

Chung hoped the government would work out a long-term policy to regulate subdivided flats.

There is no legal definition of a subdivided flat. Commonly it is used to describe cases where one flat is partitioned into two or more self-contained cubicles. Many of them are illegally converted. They are popular with needy families, especially those who are not eligible for public rental housing.

Public concern arose after a fire in a Mong Kok building in November 2011 killed nine people. It had been subdivided into tiny rental dwellings.



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This article is now closed to comments

John Adams
Yes indeed ! What on earth does HK$3,500 do to help anyone these days on any accommodation- related matter ?? !! It doesn't even cover moving costs.
It doesn't even cover the cost of a chauffeur-driven car for a day at Fanling golf club.
It's a very sad reflection on our totally dysfunctional society that we have families living in such poverty that maybe HK$3.5K / person does mean something
We have HK$10 billion in the Community Care Fund and HK$1.5 trillion in reserves.
5,000 x HK$10,000 = HK$ 50 million = 5% of the CCF and 0,0033 % of our reserves.
Ms Lam please come down from your stately CS home on the Peak and take a look around at the old people scavenging cans and newspapers from the recycling bins.
If the government were to rent out your CS home it would probably fetch HK$50 million per year.
Carrie Lam's tin ear is indeed right up there with Marie Antoinette's. Well put, henleyhk. This government's failure to address the housing needs of poor citizens makes a mockery of decades of hard work to eliminate HK's shanty towns...by the colonial power, no less. Is it any wonder the old flag is waved at protest rallies?
What a farce!! Do our government officials live in the real world? First the 6k handout to the great and good; now a one-off sop to people who really need help. I am really glad that I am not John Tsang or Carrie Lam or CY Leung; I would not want their consciences when their legacies are reviewed.
Oh, good, that means all Ms Lam's friends and colleagues can continue to play golf on HK's lush courses and waft around on their gin palaces with a clear conscience and all is well with the world. Disappointing though that the article does not explain the rationale behind these "subsidies." What are they supposed to "subsidise" actually? What long-term difference is HKD3500 supposed to make to the housing of a single person exactly? For a city with USD300 BILLION in reserves, it remains clear that the HK administration cares little and intends doing nothing meaningful about rectifying the disgraceful living conditions of many, and the sub-standard housing conditions of nearly everybody. "Let them eat cake," eh, Ms Lam?!
Come on. Stop criticizing everything that the Govt does. There are usually pros and cons to every situation. Most of us appreciated the HKD6000 when it came and I am glad those living in substandard housing now get a bonus. I am sure that that would be very welcome. How Govt officials live and play will not change with or without this offer.


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