Cage Homes and Old Private Housing Project
“A Place to Settle into”: Housing Is the Basic Right of Everyone
Since 1989, The Society for Community Organization (SoCO) has been paying attention to the problems of cage homes. Although the number of cage homes which are built by traditional barbed wires has dropped sharply from nearly 150 during the peak period, the rise of caged coffin cubicles and partitioned flats raises another concerns.
There is a serious shortage of housing supply in Hong Kong. More than 200,000 grassroots citizen have no choice but to live in sub-divided units, partitioned apartments, bedspace and other unpalatable homes with unhygienic and dangerous environment. The basic housing rights are neglected.
“Small Unit, Expensive Rent” is a daily portrayal of the sub-divided units tenants. Even worse, under the current lack of rental control, the unit has been greatly rented at any time, and even forced to move out. The tenant lacks the right to voice out. At the end of the day, the residents can only struggle to survive the most bottom level while the wait for public housing is out of the way.
SoCO visits these poor households from house to house, follows up on their living needs, and strives to improve housing policies and livelihood protection. Through services and organization works, we will improve the living conditions and strive for the realization of basic housing rights.
Do you know? In wealthy Hong Kong…
21,200 families live in temporary structures such as huts, squatters and rooftops
5,600 families live in factory buildings and commercial buildings
5,800 families live in partitioned apartments, bedspaces and lofts
More than 86,500 sub-divided units exist
More than 119,100 households with more than 220,000 underprivileged live in these unsuitable places…
We organize the families from cage homes, partitioned apartments and sub-divided units to advocate the improvement on housing and poverty in old urban area such as increasing public housing, revising quotas and points system, setting rent allowances, resetting tenancy control, building transitional housing, and supporting the rights of low-income employees and grassroots workers and so on. We also research regularly on the needs and difficulties and feasible policies of grassroots tenants, through various social actions and investigations, arousing public concern on the living standards of the grassroot citizens.
We provide timely assistance of housing and employment counseling, financial support and welfare projects for the households of cage homes, partitioned apartments and sub-divided units through community outreach visits, street information stations and daily operations of the Centre. At the same time, we organize grassroots tenants to fight for rights and interests, by holding relevant concern groups of different housing policies at regular intervals to train resident leaders to voice out for the grassroots tenants. The regular groups also contribute in building community network among the residents.
Poverty Alleviation Services
We provide materials and support services to the underprivileged, and contact different companies and organizations in different sectors, joining hands to alleviate poverty of the residents.
The Housing Support
Transitional Social Housing Service
In addition to advocating the long-term housing policy, SoCO also proposes to provide affordable transitional housing for the grassroots in the leasing market. Through the development of the “Happiness x Home” Transitional Community Housing Scheme, SoCO operates social real estate as a non-profit-making organisation to assist owners to rectify their flats and provide a shared, secure and affordable transitional social housing for the grassroots families who are on the waiting list for the public housing. The scheme acts as a reference for the Government to develop community housing in the future.
As of June 2018, “Happiness x Home” has developed community housing in the areas of West Central, Mong Kok, Cheung Sha Wan, To Kwa Wan and Kowloon City. Up to now, 53 grassroots households have benefited. “Happiness x Home” plans to launch 12 to 15 community housing units each year in the future, which will benefit more people and families in need.
- “Home Modification” Scheme
Home is the starting point of hope and dream. We believe that the participation and assistance of different sectors in the community can improve the housing quality, reshape the living quality of the beneficiaries, allowing their children to grow healthily from the very beginning of the life journey. At present, nearly one-quarter of the children in Hong Kong live under the poverty line. It is estimated that about 50,000 children in public housing estates, such as partitioned apartments, sub-divided units and rooftops – they can only do their homework and play on bed within such a restricted space. Under the “Home Modification” Schemes, the professional social workers and architects join hands to improve their living environment by designing creative furniture which optimize the use of every single inch within the limited space. We also provide one-stop services to the beneficiaries including on-the-spot case consultation, tailor-made home improvement programmes, purchase of small furniture appliances and post-modification assessment.