Hotels to become hostels with government help: Mak

Home and Youth Secretary Alice Mak said on Wednesday the government would subsidize NGOs to convert hotels into hostels to speed up the process of providing affordable accommodation for young people.

Chief executive John Lee pledged in his policy speech last week to provide around 3,000 more accommodation places for young people within five years, and Mak said the conversion of hotel rooms would be faster than helping NGOs to build hostels from scratch, as had happened before.

The minister said authorities had received positive feedback from the hospitality industry but were yet to discuss details.

“People in the hospitality industry and NGOs say it is better to have hostels in different places in urban areas because it is more convenient for young people to move around, but there can be problems operational. We need to talk more with the industry,” she said.

Under the hostel scheme, young people pay around 60% of the market price to rent a room. But Lee said in his policy speech that tenants should also commit to providing volunteer services to the community.

Meanwhile, Mak said Tsuen Wan and Southern districts would be the first areas to get service and care teams as part of the government’s goal to have a network of volunteers in every district to help. in community work and offering assistance to the underprivileged.

“These two neighborhoods include characteristics of the Hong Kong community. There are village houses, squatters, three-zero buildings [buildings without owners’ corporations, residents’ organisations or management companies]subdivided apartments, old public housing, large housing estates and low-density residential buildings,” Mak said.

“Through the establishment of care teams in these two districts, we can acquire experience and set them up in the other districts.”

She added that she hoped to complete setting up teams in all 18 districts of Hong Kong before the end of next year.