LCQ6: Transitional housing and Light Public Housing in New Territories
The Funding Scheme to Support Transitional Housing Projects by Non-government Organisations (Funding Scheme) was set up in June 2020, and the subsidised projects concerned are being completed one after another. In addition, the Government plans to develop a large amount of Light Public Housing (LPH) to improve the living environment of members of the public living in inadequate housing (including residents currently living in subdivided units (SDUs)). In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the ratio of transitional housing units constructed under the Funding Scheme allocated to persons who are waiting for public rental housing (PRH) to those allocated to persons who are not waiting for PRH, as well as the occupancy rate of transitional housing, and set out the relevant information in a table by subsidised project;
(2) whether it will consider providing more concessionary measures for SDU tenants moving to transitional housing or LPH in the New Territories, including giving priority consideration to such persons in respect of jobs which the Government will take the lead to create locally (e.g. outsourced cleaning or other frontline jobs) so that they can take up employment locally, thereby increasing the incentives for SDU tenants to move to such housing; and
(3) whether it will consider taking other measures to incentivise members of the public in need to live in transitional housing or LPH in the New Territories; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
As at end September 2022, there were approximately 135 500 general applications for public rental housing (PRH) and the average waiting time was 5.6 years. Both the 30 000 light public housing (LPH) units and 20 000 transitional housing units serve to provide short-term accommodation options to needy families currently living in inadequate housing. LPH and transitional housing are complementary to each other and will not create so-called vicious competition.
Our reply to the three parts of the Hon Holden Chow's question is as follows:
(1) As at end January 2023, the Government has identified land for providing over 20 000 transitional housing units, of which 6 900 have been completed, including about 800 rooms in hotels and guesthouses provided under the "Pilot Scheme to Subsidise Using Rooms in Hotels and Guesthouses as Transitional Housing". About 9 500 more units are expected to be completed by end 2023. Among them, since the implementation of the "Funding Scheme to Support Transitional Housing Projects by Non-government Organisations" in June 2020, the Assessment Committee for the Funding Scheme has approved the funding applications of 43 projects in total, of which nine projects have already been put into service, providing about 4 400 units. The ratios between Category A tenants (i.e. those who have waited for traditional PRH for not less than three years) and Category B tenants (i.e. other categories), as well as the occupancy rates of the projects are set out at Annex.
As at end January 2023, the occupancy of the nine projects is generally satisfactory. Projects in urban areas or near public transport hubs had an average occupancy of over 90 per cent; while the average occupancy of projects in the New Territories was close to 70 per cent. The occupancy of transitional housing projects varies from time to time. For example, processing and vetting of applications for larger projects often take a longer time; and a number of tenants have also moved out after being allocated PRH flats, which necessitated the recruitment of a new batch of tenants.
(2) and (3) Regarding LPH, projects in the urban area will provide more large units to address family needs, while those in the New Territories will provide more small units to cater for the needs of different applicants. Together with the Transport Department, we have been proactively knocking out the necessary ancillary transport arrangements for various projects, such as the addition of suitable alighting and boarding facilities and enhancement of public transport services for the projects in the New Territories. We also plan to invite the operating organisations to provide basic services for tenants as appropriate, such as retail shops, launderettes, study rooms, as well as recreational and community services. LPH enables provision of a considerable number of larger and better equipped housing units with a more pleasant living environment at lower rents within a short period of time. We believe that LPH projects in different districts will be attractive to various types of applicants.
We are aware of the vacancy of certain unit types in transitional housing projects in the more remote areas. According to the existing mechanism, if individual organisations encounter practical difficulties in recruiting tenants, they can submit the relevant data to us and apply for adjusting the tenant ratio. At present, approval has been given to two projects for adjusting their tenant ratios to 60 per cent: 40 per cent. Both the number of applicants and occupancy are rising steadily after the adjustments.
To our understanding, individual non-government organisations (NGOs) have been providing employment assistance to their tenants, including placements in the vicinity of their residence. Some organisations even assist the children of families in need to enrol in local schools to make sure that all households are able to integrate into the new community. The Labour Department (LD) has also set up job centres in various districts to offer easy-to-use employment services to job-seekers. Job-seekers may apply for jobs through referrals by the Job Centres or the Telephone Employment Service Centre where appropriate. The LD also organises different types of job fairs regularly to provide job-seekers with more effective and convenient employment services. We will continue to encourage the NGOs to make use of relevant services to provide assistance to transitional housing tenants, and will proactively consider requesting the LPH operating organisations to provide similar arrangements.
Meanwhile, the Housing Bureau (HB) has further co-ordinated and stepped up the publicity on transitional housing, including providing a link on the webpage of the Housing Department/Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA) for direct connection to the one-stop website on transitional housing. The six dedicated District Service Teams promoting the ordinance on tenancy control of subdivided units (SDUs) also introduced the transitional housing projects to the tenants of SDUs and arranged them to join guided tours to visit different transitional housing projects. Moreover, an information counter of transitional housing has also been set up in the HA Customer Service Centre, so that the operating organisations of transitional housing can more directly get in touch with those who are waiting for PRH and with urgent housing needs.
Furthermore, the HB will launch a central common application form shortly. This, coupled with the information on the one-stop website, will facilitate submission of applications by the public. At the same time, we will actively explore how to establish a central and unified platform. Besides, the HA will progressively distribute promotional leaflets on transitional housing to PRH applicants to facilitate them to learn about the latest information and application channels for transitional housing.
Thank you President.
Ends/Wednesday, February 8, 2023
Issued at HKT 16:30
Issued at HKT 16:30