HK pilot scheme to turn hotel, guest-house rooms into temporary housing for low-income residents attracts at least 10 inquiries

27-Feb-2021 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 5:02 AM Print This Post

A pilot scheme to turn underused hotels and guest houses into temporary housing for low-income Hongkongers has drawn at least 10 inquiries, while rent levels could be capped at 25 per cent of tenants’ income.

Housing officials told lawmakers during a briefing on Thursday that the government was seeking HK$95 million (US$12.2 billion) funding from the Community Care Fund for the plan.

The scheme, announced by Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor in her policy address in November, aims to subsidise hotels hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic if they rent rooms as transitional homes for people waiting a long time for public housing, with non-government organisations also involved.

Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.

More than 10 inquiries were received from guest houses, according to Carlson Chan Ka-shun, special duties director at the Transport and Housing Bureau.

While lawmakers expressed general support, some also raised concerns on how the scheme would be carried out.

Tourism sector lawmaker Yiu Si-wing said the hotel industry was concerned about several issues, including where responsibility would lie for the cost of turning rooms into homes and restoring them back to their original condition after withdrawal from the plan.

“These tenants will be living in rooms for a longer time, more damage could be made to the rooms,” he said.

Peter Shiu Ka-fai, of the wholesale and retail sector, asked how room subsidies for hotels and guest houses would be determined, and how rents would be calculated for tenants. The subsidy for each room was said to be capped at HK$133,500 for two years.

“The size of the room may affect your subsidy amount, will you be adjusting the subsidy level based on the size of rooms?” he asked officials. “Some rooms in some hotels are bigger than others.”

Chan said the bureau would look into rents being set at up to 25 per cent of tenants’ income.

The target rental rate was in line with that set for some transitional housing projects using vacant government premises or land.

Chan added that the subsidies could be used to buy facilities should the hotel or guest house require them.

Confirming an earlier report by the Post, he announced a target of 800 rooms for the scheme, with NGOs taking the lead in setting rent prices and managing tenancy agreements.

He also confirmed an INGO and a hotel had signed a memorandum of understanding, under which 161 rooms would be provided. While he did not name the parties, the Post reported earlier the Cruise Hotel in To Kwa Wan and INGO Lok Sin Tong were involved.

Use of a standard tenancy agreement in the scheme and rental adjustment according to room size were also being explored, Chan said. Officials would look at rental levels charged by NGOs while considering the size and location of rooms.

According to the Housing Authority, about 153,900 general applications for public rental housing remained outstanding at the end of December, with the average waiting time stretching to 5.7 years.


Category: Hong Kong

Print This Post

Comments are closed.