After a seven-year wait, Kevin Wong Chun-yu finally received a flat in 2016 under Hong Kong’s public housing system, but the father of two was not thrilled because he found many facilities in his estate inadequate. The Wongs were among some of the earliest residents to move into the newly built Hung Fuk Estate, the first public housing project to be completed in Hung Shui Kiu, a rural area in the New Territories that is currently being developed into a new town. It boasts nine residential blocks, a shopping centre, a market and even a community centre. Yet, many like Wong do not feel “at home”, even after three years since moving in. “A lot of ancillary facilities and amenities in this community are inadequate. Take schools for example – there is not a single primary or secondary school in Hung Fuk Estate,” he said. A lot of ancillary facilities and amenities in this community are inadequate Kevin Wong, new resident A recent concern group survey of 1,200 tenants at newly built estates around the city found that more than half faced high stress because of the new environment. According to the Alliance for the Monitoring of Welfare and Planning at Public Housing Estates, some 71 per cent of respondents had moved to new estates from other districts, a factor the alliance believed added to the hardships. Respondents were asked to rate their level of “stress” on a scale of one to 10, and it was found that on average those who had relocated within their original districts indicated lower degrees of being unable to adapt. Low-income families to receive more housing help from government The study was conducted through street interviews, home visits and phone surveys from December 2018 to January this year, involving new tenants that had moved in over the past five years. “It may seem like all their problems are solved since they’ve been housed, but it’s not as simple as people think,” said Siu Chun-keung from the Christian Family Service Centre, one of the NGOs in the alliance. “They are not used to the new environment and may lack family and support networks. They may have no idea where to buy amenities, what transport to take or which schools to apply to for their children, or how to go about enrolling.” Around 88 per cent of respondents said they believed there were not enough basic ancillary facilities at their new estates – such as schools, markets or bus routes – and more than half thought their neighbourhoods lacked community services such as help centres. For Wong Hiu-yeung, an elderly resident who was allocated a flat in the newly built Kwai Tsui Estate in Kwai Tsing last year, the problem centred on administrative help. “I didn’t know where to go to reapply for my [Comprehensive Social Security Assistance] when I moved in. I didn’t know where to find social workers that could help me with it either,” he said. Close to 90 per cent of respondents agreed with the alliance’s recommendation for specialised social worker teams to be stationed at estates. These would provide support and help to newly settled residents. City aiming for 12,600 public housing flats on former airport site by 2026 Kenny Ng Kwan-lim of the Community Development Alliance called on the government to regularise programmes and funding for deploying such teams at new estates, situate permanent offices for them there and do more to help promote inclusive communities. An estate with 8,000 flats or more would need at least HK$5 million in subventions each year, and operate a team of at least 13 social workers to provide services for a minimum of five years, he said. In her 2018 policy address, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor pledged to use the government’s Community Investment and Inclusion Fund to support community network building projects. The move is aimed at regularising support services for “integrating residents and families into their new estate communities as soon as possible”. The Labour and Welfare Bureau said under this new initiative, the number of funded community support programmes for public estates will be subjected to district needs and tenant population. The government will update lawmakers on the welfare services panel about the measures on Monday.