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Wednesday, Oct 28, 2020

New hostel targets Hong Kong’s young adults, but advocate says rents are still too expensive

Federation of Youth Groups will provide 78 units for adults aged between 18 and 31, with rents starting at HK$4,248 a month

Hong Kong’s first hostel project aimed at providing young adults with their own living space at discounted rents is calling for tenants, charging them up to HK$5,831 a month.

The project by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, will provide 78 units, mostly single rooms, for those aged between 18 and 31. Applicants will have to go through an interview process, apart from satisfying income requirements.

“We hope to understand their aspirations, and what they would hope to achieve by living in the hostels,” said Carrie Wong Sau-yee, supervisor of the federation.

“We will not just look into their income, but if the rent takes up more than 50 per cent of their salaries, then we will see if the rent could become a burden.”

The youth hostel scheme was announced by former chief executive Leung Chun-ying in his 2011 policy address as a measure to tackle the problem of unaffordable housing. The scheme, which will deliver seven hostels in total by different non-governmental organisations, aims to provide own living spaces for young adults, and provide them with an opportunity to save for their future.

Another project is to be built on land donated by developer Henderson Land Development.

The first youth hostel, costing HK$170 million and dubbed PH2, is located at Tai Po. It will provide a total of 78 flats, including 70 studio flats of 187 to 232 sq ft for singles, two double room flats and two co-living units with three rooms each.

Setting the rent at 60 per cent of the market price in the nearby area, the singles flats will be rented for HK$4,248 to $5,831 per month, while the double-room flats will be available for around HK$8,600. The three-room unit will cost $4,606 per person.

Single applicants should earn no more than HK$21,000 a month, and have net assets worth less than HK$364,000. Applicants should not own a property, and full-time university students are not eligible.

Tenants who are in the line for public rental housing can also apply for the hostels, until they are allocated to a subsidised home. Tenants can stay for a maximum of five years.

But a youth concern group said the rent would be hardly affordable and impossible for those that did stay to save any money.
Naomi Ho Sze-wai, organiser of Youth Policy Advocators, said the project failed to consider the affordability of some of the lower-income youths or new graduates.

“Many universities graduates are just earning HK$12,000 to HK$13,000 a month, and the rent of the hostel will use up half of their salaries, and make it hard to save money,” Ho said.

“In Hong Kong’s unaffordable property market, using the market rent as a reference is not sensible, and the government should provide subsidies if they aim to satisfy housing needs of the youths.”

The application process opens on Monday and will close on January 4. Successful applicants can move-in in March next year, at the earliest.

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