Poor need subsidies because they cannot afford repayments: lobby group Elderly property owners claim they cannot benefit from a Housing Society loan scheme to repair flats because the rules are too tight. The Home Renovation Loan Scheme, part of a $3 billion package launched in February, provides an interest-free loan of up to $50,000 to owners of properties at least 20 years old to renovate the interior of their flat. The loans, to be paid only after the renovations are completed, have to be repaid over three years. The package also helps set up owners' corporations and helps cover exterior repair and maintenance work. The three schemes are expected to last for 10 years. Fok Tin-man, community organiser at the Society for Community Organisation, told a press conference yesterday that as well as loans, disadvantaged owners should be given subsidies. The meeting was attended by about 100 elderly flat owners. 'It looks like as long as the exteriors of the buildings are presentable, the Housing Society does not care about the lives of the impoverished people inside,' Ms Fok said. 'People who apply to the loan scheme are obviously the ones who have problems making ends meet. How can they be expected to repay the society more than $1,000 a month?' Ms Fok said only about 30 owners had applied to the loan scheme because of its restrictive conditions. She doubted that a tenth of the $3 billion would be used at the end of 10 years with such a lukewarm response. To Wing-cheung, 63, who lives in a dilapidated flat in Shamshuipo, said his monthly welfare benefit of $2,600 was barely enough for food and medicine. 'I need a subsidy, not a loan, to deal with the leak in my flat. I was in terrible pain every time I knelt to clean the water leaking from the pipes in the toilet,' said Mr To, who had a hip replacement recently. Cheuk Tai-on, 71, said the Buildings Department had ordered him to remove an illegal structure in his Tai Kok Tsui flat by August. He said he wanted a loan of $30,000 from the society but was unable to afford a monthly repayment of about $1,000. The cancer patient, who has already spent more than $100,000 for chemotherapy treatment, said most of his saving were used up. Mr Cheuk said the scheme did not take into account that owners normally had to pay workers between 30 and 50 per cent of the total fee before they started.