• Tue
  • Jul 29, 2014
  • Updated: 6:59pm
NewsHong Kong
HOUSING

Street sleeper denied public housing after seven-year wait due to small mishap in forms

He had been to see his new flat and was looking forward to moving in, until a discrepancy in the paperwork dashed Yeung Chau-shing's hopes

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 December, 2013, 12:17pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 December, 2013, 4:13am
 

After seven years of waiting for a public housing flat, Yeung Chau-shing thought his day had come.

But before the keys could be handed over, there was one more form to fill out – the consequences of which would see the one-legged and homeless 52-year-old denied a place to live and left in limbo.

Yeung filled in his initial application for a flat seven years ago stating he was “unmarried”. Three weeks ago he was asked to fill in one final form before he could call the flat in Fu Cheong Estate home. On that form he said he was married but had lost contact with his wife.

It was a discrepancy that would deny him his home.

Yeung and his wife have been separated for a number of years but have not completed any divorce papers, Yeung said.

For practical purposes Yeung considered himself single since he did not plan to live in the flat with his wife and did not know where she was.

The discrepancy between forms caused the Housing Authority to freeze Yeung’s application pending further investigation.

“I haven’t seen her in years,” he said. “I don’t even know where to find her.”

Yeung said he had not meant to deceive authorities and had not put much thought into it before choosing “unmarried” on his original form, since there was no other more appropriate option.

“If you see it from the regulatory point of view, what the officials did was right. But if you look at the specific situation, I wonder if there could be more empathy shown towards [Yeung’s situation] – he’s been waiting a while already,” said Benson Tsang Chi-ho, who has been helping Yeung with his application and posted his dilemma online. Facebook “If there can be discretionary cases, couldn’t this be one of them?”

Tsang said he had seen other similar cases among street sleepers, who could not apply for public housing because they could not find their spouses to obtain a divorce.

“If that was a problem, why did they not ask during all these years?” Tsang said.

Sleeping on the street became harder after Yeung lost his leg last year. He said he had been looking forward to getting into his new flat, which he had visited a couple of times for pre-inspections. It was his second offer of a flat from the Housing Authority.

“Right now, I am very disappointed,” Yeung said. “And I don’t know how much longer I need to wait. It’s hopeless now.”

A Housing Authority spokesman said it will reassess the applicant’s eligibility for public rental housing in accordance with the relevant guidelines.

“Should the applicant be found to be still eligible for the flat allocated, we will re-offer to him the same flat in Fu Cheong Estate,” he said. “However, if false declaration is involved, the application concerned will be cancelled and prosecution may also be contemplated.”

Share

More on this story

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive
 
 

 

15

This article is now closed to comments

sammckhk
Hmm, false declarations...? The name Henry comes to mind, and in real terms this guy has been penalised much more than Henry. The street sleeper made an error, Henry ( or his wife since she's the scapegoat ) deliberately made a false declaration.
johndoe
They applied the law correctly, like it or not. But they could have assisted the man in advance to prevent misinformation from causing problems.
sammckhk
Why do the poor always get the law applied more rigorously than the rich ?
pbhawk
I truly hope that members of our Civil Service are reading these comments so that they can see what we think of them
sammckhk
If you were on a civil servant salary and pension would you care ? Little work to do for a lot more money than the private sector.
sipsip1238
Dao-Phooy,
I doubt anyone in government will bother helping the poor bloke, hopefully a charity will see this and offer at least some shelter for the man during this season, I volunteer for a food bank where their are people who genuinely want to help people in need,which is I guess the small light in this society.
Unfortunately, civil servants and government employees are often more selfish about their pay than to open their eyes a little to help others. Plus, given that it is close to Christmas and then CNY is very close this year, it's unlikely that they would fast-track a damn thing, more concerned about keeping themselves warm than to help a homeless man.
It's good that at least the article will bring attention to Mr.Yeung, but there are many more people in need of help, so if readers see any, please give what you can spare, however little counts.
Dao-Phooy
What a sad and disgusting story. It's 12 degrees outside and these bureaucrats hide behind their rules and regulations. No wonder ordinary people despise the Government and it's overpaid senior civil servants. Can somebody in authority do something ASAP to help this man?
sipsip1238
Excellent work by the yes-men that pushes the paper around all day...so he wrote he was unmarried and then said he has lost contact with his wife...does it make a bit of difference that he had to suffer through 7 years of living on the street.
What the government should do to train their workers is to do a secondment for their employees to sleep in the streets, then see how much more willing they'd be to help the people actually in need.
Oh wait that won't happen because those people are obviously too comfortable in their ivory tower, or worst, don't believe that homelessness is a real thing.
Decentralist
A government rests on violence, force and intimidation, the antipodal of cooperation, love, caring and empathy. Budgets, regulations and guidelines will always triumph a human life. With the possible exception of politicians and tycoons.
joyalsofi
There seems to be an absolute fear of discretionary actions by those who are not the ultimate authorities. Regardless of their personal sympathies, I have see few, if any, employees, regardless of public or private, that are willing to take a risk outside the accepted policies as they understand them. This is not only true in Hong Kong although, at times the bureaucratic language used here, can make the outcome seem especially obtuse and inhumane.
johnyuan
.
blue
Civil servants and government officials in general are pieces of **** who absolutely lack empathy and prefer to stick to their rubbish unbending guidelines instead. Cretins.

Hopefully these monsters will be shamed into doing the right thing and won't do something idiotic like prosecute a homeless man.
superdx
Yes, let's prosecute a homeless man. And when he can't pay his fines, it'll be prison time. At least he's off the streets. I've never been prouder to be a taxpayer supporting this wonderful, world-class bureaucracy.
blue
It's not just HK. All government officials and civil servants have this sickness all over the world. Perhaps some of the Nordic countries are better than average though. But if we're talking about the USA, it's even worse considering the fact that it murders innocent people with drones on a daily basis.
johnyuan
to blue,
.
I have great distaste of the term civil servant used in Hong Kong. They are neither civil nor servant. They are more of the contrary. US call the counter part public workers which are eminently truer that who works for the public is a public worker and hope they will never forget that. Civil servant is what a great pretense of this term from reality. May be the public should be the civil servant to the actually public workers should be in Hong Kong. It is a truer reality.
.
Those who manned drones from ground are call military personnel in US. They are neither civil servants nor public workers. They are subject to military court ruling and not civil court for any offense made during duty time. They aren’t public workers because Workers Unions don’t protect them.
.
So let us focus more on our civil servants especially they don’t behave exactly. .
 
 
 
 
 

Login

SCMP.com Account

or