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Govt says 800 hotel rooms to become temporary homes

2021-02-25 HKT 14:10
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  • Govt says 800 hotel rooms to become temporary homes
Jimmy Choi reports
Some people living in poor-quality housing or facing a long wait for a public flat will begin moving into converted rooms in hotels and guesthouses by the middle of the year under a government plan to provide transitional housing, officials said on Thursday.

The government told Legco’s Panel on Housing that it will seek HK$95 million from the Community Care Fund to subsidise NGOs that will rent 800 rooms and select tenants.

The NGOs will also set rents, subject to the government’s approval, with 25 percent of the tenant's monthly income, or the cap of the current rental subsidy for CSSA recipients, to be used as a reference point.

The pilot scheme was first announced by Chief Executive Carrie Lam in her policy address last year, with the twin objectives of providing more transitional housing and helping the struggling hotel and guesthouse industry during the pandemic.

Lawmakers Regina Ip and Vincent Cheng said on Thursday that they were concerned about whether the hotels and guesthouses could ask tenants to move out when the economy recovers, while tourism lawmaker Yiu Si-wing said some operators in the industry are worried that the tenancy periods would be too long.

Raymond So, the under secretary for transport and housing, said the participating hotels and guesthouses will not be allowed to ask their tenants to move out within the first two years of their stay.

“After the hotels and guesthouses do not participate in this service anymore, they can go back to their original business, but there is a precondition. They must take part for at least two years to ensure that there’ll be a security of tenure for the tenants, and the tenants will not have to be evicted,” he said.

So said one NGO has already reached an agreement with the industry to provide 161 units of transitional housing, adding that the government has been in touch with more than 10 guesthouses and various NGOs.

Meanwhile, officials also said the government is aiming to table legislation to bring in rent controls on subdivided flats within this legislative year. They said a study into the plan is underway and they will look at how to balance the rights of tenants and landlords.