For This Public Housing Applicant, Woes Continue

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2019-10-09 HKT 16:16

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  • Shirley (left) who works as a public hospital medical assistant, says even with the help of an NGO, her condition has not improved a lot. Photo: RTHK

    Shirley (left) who works as a public hospital medical assistant, says even with the help of an NGO, her condition has not improved a lot. Photo: RTHK

For Shirley, a public hospital medical assistant who's about to reach retirement age, moving into her new home on Temple Street was a relief – even though it was originally meant to be a flat that was to be shared.

But the Concerning Grassroots' Housing Rights Alliance found the apartment offered Shirley a much better home than her subdivided flat in Prince Edward, where she was sharing one room with her 29-year-old son and paying HK$5,800 as rent.

The medical assistant said she applied for public housing around four years ago and is still waiting.

With the help of the social property agent project, she and her son have now managed to sign up for the two rooms at the Temple Street flat paying HK$4,000 each. In effect, what they got was similar to a small flat as the facility came with a common area and a kitchen for the two rooms.

But despite this step up, Shirley's problems have not disappeared. The leaking walls in the new abode have worsened her skin problems. Now she has to use steroids as treatment.

"All the government can bring me is anger. But I have to speak out because if I don't, poor people like myself can get nothing," Shirley said at a media briefing by the alliance.

She said the government should implement rent control to ease the pressure on low-income workers, given how unaffordable housing is in Hong Kong. But as a long-term answer, the government should build more public flats, she said.

Shirley questions why so many tenants have to pay such high rents to live in small, sub-divided units while some private clubs can pay a nominal annual fee and operate "giant" recreational sites.

The alliance, which helped Shirley, also said the government should move pro-actively and take over public land like the Fanling golf course to build more public housing for poor people. They said Chief Executive Carrie Lam should include the proposal in the policy address next week.