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Hong Kong housing

Hong Kong housing scheme sees application rush as 521 vie for 20 subsidised flats up for lease

Applicants for a batch of flats in the Community Housing Movement will be chosen by need and could move in as early as Christmas

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 November, 2017, 7:12pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 November, 2017, 7:12pm

The first batch of 20 homes slated for a shared housing scheme for the needy has attracted overwhelming response, officials said on Tuesday, with applications exceeding capacity by 26 times.

Applicants will now go through assessment and screening, with the most-needy selected hoping to move into their new homes by Christmas.

Called the Community Housing Movement, the initiative was first floated by housing minister Frank Chan Fan after he stepped into office in July.

Vacant flats, usually from tenement buildings in urban districts, will be leased by philanthropists or developers at a nominal price to charities, which will then sub-let the units to needy families.

While the non-profit initiative is spearheaded by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, other organisations can also take part.

The current batch of 20 units, located at Fuk Lo Tsun Road in Kowloon City, is provided to the Lok Sin Tong Benevolent Society by developer Henderson Land for a nominal rent of HK$1.

While the overall scheme had called for flats to be shared among different families, these units will be for single families.

Each one-bedroom flat, measuring 260 sq ft, will be leased for HK$4,755 (US$610) per month on a two-year contract. The floor plans include independent bathrooms and kitchens.

Two ground-floor shops will also be reserved for social enterprises.

Applications closed on November 15. Lok Sin Tong revealed on Tuesday that 521 applications were received – meaning 26 applications will vie for one home.

Two-thirds of the applicants have been waiting in line for a public flat for more than four years, with another 5 per cent enduring a six-year wait.

Instead of a ballot, the charity said a screening process will decide who receives a flat, with priority given to bigger households and lower income groups.

Home visits will also be conducted to gauge the urgency of the applicants, many of whom living in squalid subdivided flats.

Results will be announced in early December, and successful applicants could move in by the end of the year.

Project development manager Cherry Lee Yim-ming said renovations were still underway.

“Henderson has taken care of the pipe and electrical fitting works, and Lok Sin Tong will now handle the interior decoration like laying floor tiles,” she said.

Energy supplier CLP Power has pledged to donate electrical appliances, while second-hand furniture will be available to tenants if needed.

Five-hundred such units will be rolled out over a three-year period. The scheme is part of the government’s plans to tackle an acute housing shortage and skyrocketing property prices in recent years.