Hong Kong school turns transitional home

A 70-year-old school in Kowloon City will get a new lease on life as transitional homes for poor families—the first of its kind in the city, according to plans by the Lok Sin Tong Benevolent Society.

The charity group aims to provide 50 flats, ranging from 180 to 240 square feet, for households with three to four family members at the Lok Sin Tong Primary School in Kowloon City.

“There are many vacant school premises in Hong Kong,” said chairwoman Jackeline Yang Xiao-ling. “We hope to lead the way so more vacant schools can be turned into social housing to help the needy and ensure land is not wasted.”

The group has applied to the Lands Department for a five-year waiver to use the premises for this purpose and hopes it can operate for up to four-and-a-half-years before it becomes a centre for social welfare services.

Project consultant and registered architect Yuen Kwok-cheung said the society hoped to preserve the structure of the school, where the classroom walls and windows will be kept intact, while walls will be constructed within classrooms to separate the units.

The classrooms will be divided into two units, and each family will have an independent kitchen and toilet. The scheme will include shared space for residents, including the playground.

The construction process is expected to begin in September, with the first batch of residents moving in by early 2020.

To qualify for the scheme, applicants must have waited three years or more for public housing and have a household size of three to four members, with children under age 18. Their monthly household income should also be below HKD23,540, which is 55 per cent of the city’s median.

Applications for the project will open in May 2019, although priority will be given to those who have already applied for transitional housing under the group’s previous schemes.

All of Hong Kong’s transitional housing projects are operated by NGOs and community organisations, with government support and coordination. The government has set aside HKD2 billion to support non-governmental organisations building transitional housing, as reported by South China Morning Post.

There are currently about 600 transitional housing flats, with about 300 more under construction, according to statistics from the Transport and Housing Bureau in February. — Construction+ Online

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