Survey reveals transit proximity as top concern for Hong Kong’s grassroots housing applicants

Choi Hing Road

25th February 2024 – (Hong Kong) A recent survey conducted by the Society for Community Organisation (SoCO) among Hong Kong’s grassroots citizens, including subdivided flat residents, has underscored the critical role of transportation linkages in housing policy satisfaction. The findings, which reflect the views of over 300 individuals, suggest that nearly 70% of respondents prioritise close proximity to transit options over the type of housing provided, pushing for a government reevaluation of housing project locations, particularly for those outside central urban areas.

The survey, spanning from November last year to January this year, gathered the opinions of 345 grassroots citizens on transitional and light public housing policies. A staggering 69.3% cited transportation as pivotal in their decision-making process for housing applications. Despite this, only three of the eight ‘Light Public Housing’ projects announced by the government are situated in urban areas – Choi Hing Road in Ngau Tau Kok, Olympic Avenue in Kai Tak, and Sheung On Street in Chai Wan – collectively contributing 14,600 units, roughly half of the overall projection, potentially leaving grassroots needs unmet.

A nuanced approach to policy was expressed by 40% of the participants, who envisioned distinct roles for ‘Light Public Housing’ and ‘Transitional Housing’. They suggested that the former should focus on residents who have been on the public housing waiting list for over three years, while the latter could cater to those awaiting less than three years. Additionally, there was a call for flexibility in application criteria based on actual demand, advocating for the utilization of resources to create synergies between the two housing models.

Since the previous administration, various transitional housing projects have been initiated. As of last October, 9,000 units have been rolled out with a further 12,000 on the horizon, totalling 21,000 units. However, these figures pale in comparison to the growing number of subdivided flat households, currently estimated at around 120,000 households or 220,000 individuals.

The survey also highlighted a stark contrast in preferences between transitional ‘modular housing’ in the New Territories and ‘Light Public Housing’ in urban districts. Only 14.5% opted for the former when presented as an option. However, when the same housing type was located in an urban area, the number of interested respondents more than doubled to 34.2%, underscoring the paramount importance of location for grassroots citizens.

This data points to a significant discrepancy between the needs of the grassroots population and the current public housing strategy. The call for more centralised housing projects, equipped with robust employment and transportation support, resonates with the urgent need to improve living conditions for those in temporary and subdivided housing, and aligns with the government’s commitment to phasing out substandard living environments.