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Thursday, Feb 22, 2024

Street sleepers go homeless again as wooden units at Kwun Tong Pier cleared

Street sleepers in Kwun Tong Public Pier had their belongings removed by police officers and officials of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department this morning after the homeless people built more than 10 wooden units in the pier for a long time.
The police and department staff arrived at the pier at around 9am to clear the illegal structures built by the homeless, with the help of some volunteers.

More than 10 wooden units were built in the middle of the pier along with large amounts of sundries – collected by the homeless as their personal belongings – piling up, despite a notice previously posted by the transport department stating that the public should not leave items inside the pier.

The staff removed the homelessness’ belongings – including sofas, cabinets and chairs, then demolished the wooden structures by moving the boards away. Some homeless people were seen to cooperate with the clearing work and moved their belongings away.

The clearing work took around an hour.

Founder of Homeless Link Hong Kong, an non-governmental organization to help the homeless people, Kong Ho-man criticized the government’s lack of proper placement policies.

“We hope the government can provide more public housing. They can turn their quarantine facilities into accommodation for the homeless after the pandemic, while they are queuing for public housing. As I know it takes more than ten years for a homeless person to get a public housing unit,” Kong said.

Meanwhile, Secretary for Labour and Welfare Chris Sun Yuk-han said the number of registered homeless people had dropped 123 people to 1,441 by the end of March, compared to last year’s 1,564 people, in a written reply to lawmaker Priscilla Leung Mei-fun’s question on the situation of homeless people.

Despite the post-pandemic decrease, the current number of homeless people is 11 percent higher than that in 2019.

The figures showed less than half of the homeless could find legal accommodation, as Sun said a total of 626 places of emergency and short-term accommodation for street sleepers are provided – 288 subsidized by the social welfare department and 298 provided by non-governmental organizations on a self-financing basis.

Sun explained the cause of homelessness by reasons such as being unable to rent a place due to unemployment or high rents, having family relationship problems and being recently discharged from hospital, prison or drug addiction treatment center.

“Some people temporarily lived on the streets during the epidemic because they were unable to return to the Mainland for residence or work due to quarantine requirements at border crossings. These new street sleepers lived off the streets after their problems were solved accordingly,” Sun said.
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