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Poverty

There are homeless people in Hong Kong: pushing them out of sight is no solution

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 August, 2018, 11:48pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 August, 2018, 11:48pm

I am writing to express my concern regarding the article, “Priced out and living above a rubbish dump: where do Hong Kong’s rough sleepers go?” (August 12). I was shocked and saddened to read about people living in homeless shelters above a rubbish collection centre, or spending their nights at 24-hour McDonald’s outlets to save on rent or on utility bills amid the summer heat.

As a child, I used to think Hong Kong was a prosperous city. Its gleaming skyscrapers are proof of this. But the housing problem – especially the deplorable living conditions of the poor – is Hong Kong’s ugly little secret.

Indeed, Hong Kong’s distorted property market is a notorious problem and the cause of many of society’s troubles. It is hard to go about our lives pretending everything is all right, knowing that a group of people are being neglected and forced to live in such unbelievably dreadful conditions. Of course, there are those who speak out for the socially vulnerable, including the homeless. But has the government done enough to alleviate this problem?

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It is ironic that the Social Welfare Department believes the needs of street sleepers can be well looked after with current strategies and support services. My heart broke to read reports last month of how the homeless had been driven from a footbridge in Sham Shui Po.

Promoting Hong Kong’s international image is important. However, the priority of the government should be to alleviate the problems of the most vulnerable, instead of covering its eyes and pretending they do not exist. Neglecting the homeless is no solution.

Antonia Kwan, Kwai Chung