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Society for Community Organisation have called for the point and quota system for non elderly single public housing applicants to be abolished. Photo: Jonathan Wong

Non-elderly singles should get subsidies too because they have longest wait for Hong Kong public housing, SoCO says

  • Society for Community Organisation urges government to abolish an age-based points system for single non-elderly public housing applicants
  • About 92 per cent of non-elderly singles say they do not receive money from their families

A Hong Kong advocacy group has called for non-elderly singletons living in inadequate housing to be eligible for financial subsidies, as they face the longest wait for public flats and most do not receive support from their families.

Members of the Society for Community Organisation (SoCO) on Sunday urged the government to abolish an age-based points system for non-elderly public housing applicants and prioritise how long they have been living alone.

Sze Lai-shan, the group’s deputy director, noted on Sunday that non-elderly singles faced at least a decade-long wait for a flat.

The average waiting time for a public rental housing flat stands at six years after dropping for the first time in three years, while elderly individual applicants usually receive a home after 4.1 years, according to the Housing Authority.

Society for Community Organisation announces the results of a survey on the living conditions of non-elderly singles. Photo: Jonathan Wong

“We can see that many of [the non-elderly singles] have stayed in such inadequate places for a long time and many of them do not know when they will finally be given public housing,” she said.

“The government not giving subsidies to non-elderly is very unfair and only exacerbates the situation [for them] ... The government should give them some subsidies so they can rent better housing.”

Last June, authorities launched a three-year cash allowance scheme to alleviate the livelihood difficulties faced by low-income residents who have been waiting for public rental housing for a long time.

The Housing Authority said its target was to prioritise families and elderly one-person applicants who had been waiting for a flat for a prolonged period.

Academics propose Hong Kong public housing swap between working age and elderly

A one-person household is entitled to HK$1,300 (US$166) a month if they have been waiting for public housing for at least three years, but that only applied to elderly applicants and not younger singles.

Families with more people are entitled to higher subsidies, with more than HK$3,900 for households with six people and above.

Sze also said non-elderly singles made up over 40 per cent of public housing applicants, while the government used age to differentiate the priority of housing allocation for singles.

“[The government] should increase the supply of housing and increase the housing quota for non-elderly singles,” she said. “Even if they want to use a [quota and points] system, they should not just count their age, but also how long they have been living alone or their living conditions.”

A cages home in Tai Kok Tsui. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

The Quota and Points System is used by the housing authorities to determine how non-elderly singles will be allocated public housing, with older applicants having a higher priority over younger ones.

From June to August this year, the society surveyed 173 residents aged between 18 and 59 who are either living or used to live in inadequate housing such as subdivided units and cage homes. They were asked about their living conditions, financial status and mental health.

Some 90 per cent of the respondents living in unsuitable housing said they had to cut back on food and clothing because of housing expenses, while 80 per cent of them said they felt distressed because of high rents and the fear payments would increase.

While almost 83 per cent still had contact with their family members, as many as 92 per cent did not receive financial support from them.

Hong Kong urged to ban subdivided flats, with removal road map proposed

As of the end of June, there were about 144,200 general applications for public housing, while there were also about 98,400 non-elderly one-person applications under the quota and points system.

The city has about 110,000 subdivided flats, mostly in dilapidated buildings in Kowloon and the New Territories.

The city’s subdivided housing spaces, many of them windowless and plagued by hygiene and fire hazards, are notorious for their poor living conditions.