For Hong Kong’s youth, government-backed hostels provide a smidgen of real estate hope By Reuters

© Reuters. SUBMIT PICTURE: Travelers unwind on the waterside in front of Victoria Harbour, with the renowned horizon structures as a background, in Hong Kong, China June 28, 2023. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

By Clare Jim

HONG KONG (Reuters) – For many young people, vacating house is an initiation rite however in Hong Kong – well-known for its persistent absence of real estate – it’s generally an unaffordable dream.

Silver Ho, a 26-year-old hairstylist assistant who was tired of arguing with his moms and dads, counts himself as one of the fortunate ones. 2 months earlier, he landed an area at a brand-new so-called “hostel”, which provides spaces for young people that are subsidised by the Hong Kong federal government and can be leased for approximately 5 years.

His 22 square metre (240 square foot) twin-bed space he’ll show another individual is just a bit smaller sized than the general public real estate system he showed his moms and dads.

Ho likewise pays lease of simply HK$ 4,400 ($ 560) monthly, 27% less expensive than an area in a sub-divided flat in the exact same area. Such segmented systems typically have no individual restroom and are hardly huge enough for a bed.

The hostel program, increase in 2015 under pressure from Chinese President Xi Jinping, is targeted at taking on youth aggravation with real estate – an element Beijing thinks added to the anti-government pro-democracy demonstrations that rocked the city in 2019.

It’s likewise targeted at supporting what the federal government thinks about to be great accountable residents and supplying chances for self-development.

Applicants – who need to be more youthful than 31, make less than HK$ 25,000 ($ 3,200) a month and have less than HK$ 380,000 in possessions – are selected after interviews. They are likewise needed to do 200 hours a year of social work or authorized activities to keep their spaces.

For Ho, acquiring a space at the BeLIVING hostel has actually suggested self-reliance and saving money on travelling time. It’s the very first to have actually been transformed from a hotel under a brand-new plan and unlike the city’s 3 other hostels, is easily situated in the busy industrial location of Causeway Bay.

” I now have more time in the beauty salon to find out brand-new abilities and practise. That assists increase my opportunities of getting a promo,” he stated.


Hong Kong has actually been the world’s least inexpensive real estate market for 13 successive years, according to research study company Demographia, and real estate concerns are extensively blamed for the majority of the city’s social issues.

Public real estate systems are readily available for low-income individuals however the typical waiting time is 5.3 years. Households and the senior are favoured, so the opportunities of one going to a young bachelor are close to nil.

Hong Kong’s hostel program initially began in 2011 however just got momentum after Xi checked out the city last July and stated the federal government should do more to deal with youth real estate and task issues while developing more chances for self-development.

At the time, the city had just one hostel with 80 beds. Ever since, nevertheless, the federal government has actually vowed to enhance supply.

It now intends to offer 3,000 beds in 5 years through hotel-to-hostel conversions, which would begin top of 3,400 prepared under the very first program that are either being constructed from scratch or through redeveloping homes owned by non-profit groups.

A study by the Worrying Youth Real estate Rights Alliance released in May recommends the hostels will have minimal appeal with near to 90% of participants stating they do not prepare to use. The majority of are rather prioritising conserving approximately acquire their own flat one day.

That stated, candidates for the BeLIVING hostel overtook the variety of beds 5 to 1.

New BeLIVING resident Chelsea Tung sees her relocation as both an opportunity to deal with her sweetheart while putting aside cash for a flat of their own.

” I’ll have the ability to conserve up for a downpayment here,” the 23-year-old insurance coverage representative stated.

The program deals with numerous obstacles.

It might be difficult to enhance the variety of hostels as hotels, formerly struck hard by 3 years of pandemic limitations, are now seeing more need.

Non-profit groups that run the hostels are likewise having a hard time to discover a sustainable funding design.

The group that runs the city’s very first hostel constructed under the federal government plan stated all its rental earnings goes towards constructing upkeep and task management.

” We require to think about methods to cut expenses and to raise funds to keep operating,” stated Carrie Wong, a manager at the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups.

Ngai Ming Yip, a teacher of real estate and city research studies at City University of Hong Kong, stated the hostel plan will just offer a restricted quantity of supply and just presumes in ameliorating aggravation amongst the city’s youth.

” The root of the issue is not just real estate. Research study has actually revealed it relates to youths’s views towards chance, outlook, politics, democracy, whatever,” he stated.

($ 1 = 7.8136 Hong Kong dollars)


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