'Cash Plan For Those Waiting For Flats Isn't Enough'

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2020-12-02 HKT 18:44

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  • Sze Lai-shan says the authorities must improve the upcoming cash allowance scheme for those waiting for public housing. File photo: RTHK

    Sze Lai-shan says the authorities must improve the upcoming cash allowance scheme for those waiting for public housing. File photo: RTHK

Sze Lai-shan spoke to RTHK's Candice Wong

The Society for Community Organisation (Soco) has urged the SAR government to expand a planned cash allowance for people who have been waiting for public housing for more than three years.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said in her Policy Address last month that subsidies would be provided for families and elderly people, hopefully from the middle of next year.

A document submitted to the Legislative Council shows how much households of various sizes are likely to get, with a single person expected to receive HK$1,250 per month under the scheme, while a family of six or more would get HK$3,850.

But Sze Lai-shan from Soco said thousands of single applicants under the age of 58 would go without under the current plan.

She told RTHK's Candice Wong that it's unfair to exclude younger single people who could also be living in harsh environments.

"Around 120,000 people they are waiting for these [flats], they are the non-elderly single persons. Many of them are living in cage homes, cubicles these kind of poor conditions... many of them they need to wait for over 20 or 30 years for public housing," she said.

The government aims to keep the wait for public housing to three years, but the average wait has now risen to five-and-a-half years, resulting in many grassroots households spending a big portion of their income on private rental homes.

Sze also said that the allowances planned are just "minimal" and the authorities should increase the subsidies in light of how much people have to pay in rent.

She said the scheme should be rolled out sooner than the middle of next year.

The government says the three-year trial scheme will cost an estimated HK$8 billion and is expected to benefit around 90,000 households.