A help group for negative-equity homeowners has urged banks to implement relief measures to reduce the financial burden faced by debtors. The Negative Equity Revitalisation Organisation has received more than 3,000 calls for help since it was set up in January. Group chairman Albert Cheng King-hon, said some callers had been so desperate they had even contemplated suicide. The organisation has handled 300 cases so far. It found 60 per cent of the families had to use more than half of their income to pay the mortgage. Seventy per cent said they also had other debts while 15 per cent owed more than $1 million to banks or other finance institutions. Forty-eight per cent of those in the negative-equity trap said their property value had dropped by more than 50 per cent. Tik Chi-yuen, vice-chairman of the organisation, said many of these people had lost their jobs or suffered pay cuts during the economic downturn. 'It is very dangerous for so many families to use more than half of their income to pay mortgages. If one of the partners lost their job, they would be driven to ruin.' He estimated there were more than 100,000 people in Hong Kong suffering negative equity, and warned the number could rise. Mr Cheng accused some banks of not carrying out relief measures they promised to help negative-equity homeowners. Earlier, the Association of Banks wrote to members appealing for them to help customers with negative equity. HSBC, Bank of China and Standard Chartered Bank have agreed to set up centralised units to assist home-owners in debt.