CS visits Light Home families (with photos)

     The Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, visited the Light Home Scheme at Wing Lee Street and Shing Wong Street in Sheung Wan this afternoon (July 6). Accompanied by the Chairman of Light Be, Mr Laurence Li; the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Social Ventures Hong Kong, Mr Francis Ngai; and the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Light Be, Mr Ricky Yu, Mrs Lam paid home visits to four families living in two flats of the Light Home Scheme.

     Light Be is a self-sustainable enterprise operating at its own cost, allowing private proprietors to utilise their residential property for helping single-parent families in need, empowering them to move towards self-reliance. Since the launch of the first Light Home in September 2012, property owners and organisations have approached Light Be direct, providing over 30 flats for Light Home. These include six units at Wing Lee Street provided by the Urban Renewal Authority. Rented out to single-parent families in need, Light Home sets affordable rent below the market level. So far, the scheme has helped 160 people from 60 families. Most of the Light Home flats have two or three bedrooms with shared living room, kitchen, bathroom and other basic facilities and the flats are leased to single-parent families under a co-tenancy arrangement.

     One of the flats visited by Mrs Lam is shared by two single-parent families. One of the tenants, Ah Mei (pseudonym), told Mrs Lam, "I remember when we moved into the Light Home late last year, it took time for the family of Ah Fun (pseudonym of the co-tenant) and mine to adjust. Fortunately, staff from Light Be visited us regularly. We sought their advice in earnest on how to be better parents. So while adjusting to living with another family under one roof, Ah Fun and I also learned from each other in an interactive manner and aligned our child-raising practices. Gradually, two families have merged into one."

     Ah Fun had worked as a sales assistant for children's clothes before her child was born. She said, "We have arranged for both of our kids to attend the same kindergarten so that we can help take care of each other's kid easily. Later, I will look for a part-time job. If possible, I will also enrol in an English class for self-improvement."

     Mr Yu said, "Like the general public of Hong Kong, single mothers Ah Mei and Ah Fun are working hard to build a better future for their families. They are trying their best to live their life to the fullest. Unfortunately, due to their family problems and expensive rentals, it was difficult for them to be lifted out of misery on their own. The stable living environment as well as professional guidance and support under the Light Home Scheme help them stand on their own feet and start a new chapter of life. It is this poverty alleviation model that underlines the uniqueness of the Light Home Scheme."

     Acknowledging the challenges faced by single mothers, Mrs Lam encouraged Ah Mei and Ah Fun to continue to stay strong and strive for their future. She added the objective of the Light Home Scheme is in line with that of the Government's poverty alleviation efforts, which provide support to those in need on one hand, while encouraging them to be self-reliant. She also extended her gratitude to the owners of the Light Home flats for their participation in the Light Home Scheme to help resolve the problem of poverty in Hong Kong.

     Mrs Lam pledged the Government's support for the Light Home Scheme. The Government is taking steps to hand over to the Light Home Scheme some 40 flats in the government property of a former dormitory repossessed by the Lands Department. These flats will be turned into Light Housing to benefit more families in need.

Ends/Monday, July 6, 2015
Issued at HKT 18:39