Light Be, a social realty venture launched in 2013, said it has collected 100 flats from charitable landlords who are willing to rent out their units as “light homes” to indigent households at prices lower than the market rates, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
While the government is trying to find ways to address the housing shortage, the venture’s Light Home scheme has helped hundreds of low-income families, almost five years ahead of the social housing scheme launched last month by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service (HKCSS).
Light Be founder and chief executive Ricky Yu said his group’s scheme is basically different from that of HKCSS.
The HKCSS targets those who are currently waiting in line for public rental housing and provides only a transitional solution, while the Light Home scheme aims to help low-income families who struggle around the poverty threshold and need cheaper places to live in to improve their living conditions regardless of whether or not they are waiting for public homes, Yu said at a press conference to mark the receipt of the 100th flat for the scheme on Monday.
Statistics show there are more than 400,000 people categorized as “poor” in the city, he said.
Yu pointed out that 90 percent of the flats offered under the scheme are now occupied, with 30 percent of the residents seeing their incomes rise by 20 percent in a year as cheaper rents drive them to work harder to make their life better.
While the 100 flats collected by Light Be is much fewer that the more than 300 ones offered by HKCSS, Yu is still very grateful to the kindhearted landlords who participate in the Light Home scheme.
He said around eight in ten of the landlords participating in the scheme are willing to continue offering their flats for rent once the lease contracts expire, making him confident that the scheme can persist in the long term.
Some landlords buy flats mainly to preserve the value of their assets but they also want to help the community, Yu said, noting that light homes allow them achieve both purposes.
Asked if HKCSS’ social housing will cannibalize Light Be’s efforts, Yu said the impact remains to be seen, although he hopes both groups could work together and create a bigger pie. Otherwise, Light Be will seek a different development pattern.
Yu also revealed that a new Light Home project that targets low-income young people will be rolled out next year, with details to be unveiled later.
Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said after attending the press conference that the Light Home scheme is a proof of the successful cooperation between the government and the private sector.
He called on more landlords to donate their flats to benefit more people while promising to speed up the approval process.
The government is always open to any proposal on how to increase the city’s housing supply, which will be the most important part of Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s policy address scheduled for Wednesday, Cheung said.
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