Low-income Hong Kong families to get subsidies for shared flats in HK$7.2 million pilot scheme
Government measures effective from next month follow grim news of record-high poverty in city
Underprivileged Hong Kong families will receive subsidies when moving into shared flats and a monthly allowance to rent private housing, the poverty commission announced on Friday, as authorities strive to ease a growing socioeconomic dilemma.
The measures came as an official report for 2016 revealed that poverty in the city had climbed to a record high, with one in five people considered poor.
Among the five measures to be rolled out by the Commission on Poverty, chaired by Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, the government’s Community Care Fund is to sponsor low-income families’ relocation expenses when they move into shared flats run by the Council of Social Service, an umbrella organisation for voluntary agencies in Hong Kong.
“With a provision of HK$7.22 million, the three-year pilot scheme will commence this December and is expected to benefit a total of 1,000 households moving into Community Housing Movement rental housing units,” the government said in a statement on Friday.
In the second measure, households on the government’s Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) scheme are to receive a monthly subsidy to rent a private flat, instead of being granted a one-off subsidy of HK$2,000 (for one-person households) or HK$4,000 (for households with two or more people).
The subsidy shall amount to “either 50 per cent of the actual rent paid in excess of the maximum rent allowance of the CSSA household or 15 per cent of the maximum rent allowance” applicable to the households, whichever is less, the statement added.
Other measures include free cervical cancer vaccination for teenage girls aged 9 to 18 from households on the Low-income Working Family Allowance Scheme or on the Working Family Allowance Scheme. Female pupils aged 9 or above who received a half grant under the School Textbook Assistance Scheme are also eligible.
In addition, Hong Kong residents under the age of 18 who lived in subdivided units in industrial buildings and were forced to move out because of Buildings Department enforcement actions are to receive a relocation allowance.
The government also expanded the list of drugs it would subsidise.