The Hong Kong Council of Social Service (HKCSS), a federation of non-governmental social service agencies, promised to offer more low-rent housing units under its flat-sharing scheme after those that have been occupied were highly commended by tenants, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The scheme, which was launched last year, 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 first batch of units, Ngahin on Soy Street in Mong Kok, began accepting tenants in December last year.
Run by St. James’ Settlement, Ngahin was originally a rehousing block under the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) for those affected by redevelopment projects before 14 units comprising 30 rooms were let at low rents under the scheme. The saleable area of each unit is between 372 and 415 square feet.
According to the charity, it has received 64 applications to rent the units so far with 23 of them having been accepted to share a total of 25 rooms.
One of the tenants, who moved in one of the shared units with her six-year-old son, said she used to pay HK$4,300 for monthly rent and water and electricity bills for the subdivided flat where they had lived for three years, but now she only needs to pay HK$3,990, including HK$3,640 as rent, as she is supported by the government’s Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme.
Besides the lower rent, she also praised the unit she currently shares with another single mother for providing more space that has helped her son recover from depression he used to suffer.
HKCSS business director Anthony Wong Kin-wai said although currently its flat-sharing scheme only offers units in Kowloon City, To Kwa Wan and Mong Kok, there will be more coming this year.
They will be located in Sai Wan, Central, Sai Ying Pun and Southern District, with a total of 58 units to be offered starting from April, Wong said.
The organization has so far received 421 units for the scheme from donors and more than 200 of them have been deemed appropriate for use.
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