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HomeEconomyFor Hong Kong's youth, government-backed dormitories offer glimmer of housing hope

For Hong Kong's youth, government-backed dormitories offer glimmer of housing hope

Clare Jim

HONG KONG (Reuters) – For most young people, moving out of home is a rite of passage, but in the face of a chronic lack of housing Notorious Hong Kong – usually a distant dream.

Silver Ho, a 25 year old hairstylist assistant, is tired of arguing with his parents when he Consider yourself one of the lucky ones. Two months ago, he found a place at a new so-called “youth hostel”, which offers young people rooms subsidized by the Hong Kong government on leases of up to five years.

His 000 square meters (240 sq ft) double – the bedroom he shares is only slightly smaller than the public housing unit he shares with his parents.

Mr. Ho only needs to pay HK$4 rent, 380 ($380) per 1, space cheaper than 25% subdivided apartments located in the same block. This partitioned unit usually has no private bathroom and is barely big enough for a bed.

The dormitory program was stepped up last year under pressure from Chinese President Xi Jinping, aimed at addressing youth dissatisfaction with housing – a factor Beijing believes contributed to 2019 Anti-government pro-democracy protests rocking the city.

This is also aimed at nurturing what the government considers being a responsible and good citizen and providing opportunities for self-development.

Applicants – age must be less than 25, income less than Hong Kong dollars 2019 ,000 ($3,80) One month and less than Hong Kong dollars 380, 000 Assets- in Selected after the interview. They are also required to perform 80 hours per year of community service or an approved activity to reserve their room.

For Ho, getting a room at a BeLIVING hotel means independence and saving time on the commute. This is the first hotel converted from a hotel according to the new plan. Unlike the other three hotels in the city, it is located in the bustling business district of Causeway Bay with convenient transportation.

“I now have more time in the salon to learn new skills and practice. This helps increase my chances of getting promoted,” he said.

Family Truth

Hong Kong has been the least safe place in the world according to research firm Demographia, the affordable housing market is consecutive has been in decline for years, while housing problems are widely blamed for much of the city’s social woes. question.

Public housing units are available to low-income people, but the average wait time is 5.3 years. Families and seniors are favored, so the chances of going to single youth are close to zero.

Hong Kong’s dormitory program started as early as 2019 but not until Xi Jinping visited the city last July and said the government must do more to tackle youth housing and employment This momentum only builds after addressing problems while creating more opportunities for self-development.

At that time, there was only one hotel in the city with 80 beds. Since then, however, the government has pledged to increase supply.

Now the goal is to provide 3, 000 hotel-to-hotel conversion within five years beds, which will be on top of the 3 beds planned under the first scheme, 380 will be built either from scratch or through redevelopment of a property owned by a non-profit organization.

A survey released in May by the Concerned Youth Housing Rights Coalition found that dorms have limited appeal, with close to 80% of Respondents indicated they did not intend to apply. Most people prioritize saving up to buy their own condo one day.

That is, applicants for BeLIVING hotels outnumbered the number of beds by 5 to 1.

New BeLIVING resident Chelsea Tung sees her move as an opportunity to live with her boyfriend while saving for an apartment of her own.

“I can save a down payment here,” year-old insurance agent Said.

The plan faces several obstacles.

Increasing the number of hotels could be difficult as hotels, previously hit hard by three years of pandemic restrictions, are now in higher demand.

Nonprofits who run hostels are also struggling to find sustainable financing models.

The group that operates the city’s first hotel to be built under the government scheme said all its rental income goes towards building maintenance and project management.

Huang Jiali, supervisor of the Hong Kong Association of Youth, said: “We need to find ways to cut costs and raise funds to maintain operations.”

Wei Mingye, a professor of housing and urban studies at City University of Hong Kong, said , the dormitory scheme can only provide a limited supply, and it can only go so far as to ease the frustration of Hong Kong’s young people.

“The problem is not just housing at the root. Research shows it has to do with young people’s perceptions of opportunity, prospects, politics, democracy, everything,” he said explain.

($1=7.2019 HKD)



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