The Hong Kong Council of Social Service (HKCSS), a federation of non-government social service agencies, has launched a flat-sharing scheme that aims to ease Hong Kong’s tight housing supply by providing low-cost units to tenants who are paying outrageous rents for subdivided flats while waiting for public rental housing
The three-year-project, called Community Housing Movement, offers a new option of affordable and decent housing, HKCSS chairperson Bernard Charnwut Chan said at the inauguration ceremony on Tuesday.
In a statement, HKCSS said short-term and medium-term solutions have become increasingly important for the grassroots without public rental housing support as many of them have been living in undesirable conditions.
The group aims to provide short-term relief by offering accommodation and support services to individuals or families in need.
Eligible applicants are those who have been waiting for public housing for not less than three years, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Government data shows the number of households living in subdivided flats and waiting for public rental housing for more than three years was about 14,400 in 2015.
The rent will be set between the maximum level of the rent allowance under the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme and rent of the public rental housing but not more than 25 percent of the household income of the tenants.
According to HKCSS chief executive Chua Hoi-wai, each unit will provide an area of no less than 75.3 square feet per capita and the minimum lease period is two years.
Twenty-six landlords have agreed to contribute 332 units in Kowloon City, Yau Tsim Mong, Wong Tai Sin, Central and Western District, Southern District and Eastern District to the project, Chua said.
The goal is to solicit 500 units to be shared by at least 1,000 families.
There will be 34 units available by the end of the year after inspections and renovations, and more in the first half of next year.
HKCSS said the Community Chest has allocated HK$50 million to support the project.
Meanwhile, Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan said he was told by some social workers that the rent for subdivided flats in the private market has fallen due to the project.
However, some real estate agents do not expect the project to have a significant impact on the rent because demand for subdivided flats is still quite high while the number of units provided by the project is only a drop in the bucket.
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