‘Hundreds of public flats empty and going to waste’

A concern group on Sunday complained that almost 900 public flats across the city are sitting empty when they could be used to house people with no place of their own.

The group, an alliance focused on transitional homes policies, said it came up with the figure after combing through Housing Authority data, adding that around 400 of the flats have been vacant for more than a year.

These units have been left empty because of inadequate facilities, unfavourable locations such as being close to refuse rooms, or because people died in them, the group said.

“The Housing Authority always stressed that public housing is a valuable resource in Hong Kong, so we think the authority should promise to make good use of these resources and not let them go to waste,” said a spokesman for the group, Chan Wai-hung.

The alliance suggested using these units for transitional housing for people left homeless after being evicted from illegal structures or industrial units.

It said the Po Tin Transit Centre in Tuen Mun, which takes in low-income families forced out of their homes, has limited space and is too remote for some.

The group said many of the empty flats are in Kwun Tong, Kwai Tsing, Wong Tai Sin and Eastern district and they could provide temporary housing for displaced families in or closer to their original areas.

It also proposed that storage rooms in public housing estates be turned into transitional homes.