THE Housing Authority is refusing to pay for security gates to protect residents from attacks by debt-collectors, saying they would cost too much. People living in Tsing Yi claim they are being terrorised by loansharks, and have pleaded with the Housing Authority to bear the cost of installing security bars. Tenants in the worst affected estates said they feared for their lives, unless something was done to protect them from the debt-collectors. Residents said they had been subjected to arson attacks, robbery, indecent assault, written threats and late-night disturbances. But so far the Housing Authority has refused to pay for the installation of security gates, which would cost about $445,000 per apartment block. Housing Authority senior information officer Ms Diana Kam said the cost of installing the security gates was too high. The situation has become so serious that many residents hang ropes from apartment windows as a way of escaping arson attacks. In a recent incident in Kwai Fong estate, loansharks chained a security door and threw inflammable liquid under the door beforestarting a fire. The occupants managed to escape but the apartment was gutted. Loansharking is a common activity in the district. The Tsing Yi Concern Group has become expert in dealing with loanshark cases. It was set up in 1984 to deal with public affairs issues, such as public transport, but has been inundated with cries for help from terrified borrowers. Ms Winnie Tam from the Tsing Yi Concern Group said that although staff from the Housing Department had visited the site, tenants would not feel safe until something was done about security in the district. ''The loansharks go around and knock on people's doors in the early hours of the morning and leave threats outside flats,'' said Ms Tam. ''Most people are too scared to go to the police so they come to us. ''The solution for most people is to leave the estate. They don't want the loansharks to know they have moved away and new tenants move in, unaware of the risk.'' Ms Tam said a survey in November last year of 841 Tsing Yi public housing estate residents showed 71 per cent expressed an urgent need for the installation of public gates to ensure a secure living environment. ''The Housing Authority said it would be no problem to install the gates provided the tenants pay for it. But it is the government's responsibility to provide safe housing,'' she said. ''The tenants shouldn't be expected to pay for the gates; when they move away they certainly can't take the gates with them.'' Vice-president of the Tsing Yi Concern Group, Mr Ting Yin-wah, said the low security in the housing estates meant that anyone could enter the buildings. ''It seems that anyone can go into the blocks and commit a criminal act,'' he said. ''The Government should educate the public not to borrow money. ''If they have to borrow money then they should borrow from a finance company. ''They should ensure they know the interest rate before they enter a deal.''