The Hong Kong government is being urged to study the feasibility of turning a number of idle school buildings into flats as part of efforts to provide temporary housing for those in need.
The proposal was made by several groups on Monday, including the Platform Concerning Subdivided Flats and Issues in Hong Kong (PCSFIHK) and Chu Hai College of Higher Education, hk01.com reports. The government is considering several options to ease the long-term problem of tight housing supply.
Chan Wing-tung, director of the PCSFIHK, said there are at least 55 idle school buildings under the Planning Department and the Education Bureau, with 35 open for applications for short-term lease.
He said it is a waste that the government has not made the most of these.
The buildings are suitable for temporary housing as suggested by research conducted by the Chu Hai College department of architecture, Chan said.
The two groups cooperated to find a solution to Hong Kong’s housing dilemma.
The research, which took one year, focused on the buildings on Kwun Tong Road formerly used by St. Joseph’s Anglo-Chinese School but have been sitting idle since it relocated nine years ago.
Victor Chu, an architecture master’s degree student of Chu Hai College, said he had conducted on-site inspections of the buildings four to five times.
He said these can be remodeled into about 100 flats between 165 and 264 square feet with independent toilets and kitchens, including 89 flats that can accommodate four people each. The remodeling cost is estimated to be about HK$930,000.
As the flats account for only half of the area occupied by the buildings, the rest of the premises can be used as public space, Chu said.
PCSFIHK said target residents are households which have been waiting in line for public housing for at least three years and those who are forced by the government to move because of reconstruction, according to The Standard.
A mother who lives in a subdivided flat with her daughter said the proposal is attractive, especially because each of the flats provides independent space and also room for activities.
Paul Chu, head and associate professor of Chu Hai’s architecture department, said remodeling takes only 18 months, about half of the time required to build public homes, but it needs government approval.
The proposal will be submitted to the Kwun Tong District Council for deliberations.
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