As we can expect Hong Kong’s homeless population has been growing over the past year especially as the coronavirus devastates the Hong Kong economy taking with it un unprecedented number of jobs and forcing many others to go into unpaid leave or work shorter weeks. This has dramatically effected their livelihood and forcing many below the poverty line.
Charities like Saint James settlement, Sunshine action, MSF (Doctor's beyond borders) and others are working around the clock but still finding it hard to care for the Homeless due to tighter government regulation on social distancing, which thought important make it harder to reach the needy. Despite the Covid-19 threat their teams have continued to visit the homeless on the streets regularly, while still observing social-distancing rules.
Pic: Young and Homeless in HK
To quote plights on homeless highlighted in the SCMP, a street sleeper going by the name Li, a former street cleaner found himself unemployed for three months was obliged to take refuge at a hostel run by the MSF.
“At first, I lived in a hostel which cost HK$250 per day, but I soon realized that it was too expensive for me, so I moved to an internet cafe for HK$35 per night,” Yeung said. “In May, I could go to the nearby gymnasium to take a shower, but now I can’t do anything.”
“With the outbreak, I haven’t been able to find a job since April… With the restrictions, I don’t know where to go,” he added.
Being homeless in HK in the present time is no more a fear. Its the only option for a growing number of unfortunate Hong Kongers. In the last official figures we found, the number of registered homeless people in Hong Kong stood just south of 1300 in 2018, an increase of 51 per cent since 2013-14.
Since then with the turmoil with the protests and then Corona the figures according to some estimates have more than doubled. in the rent is so expensive in Hong Kong, many say that they can’t find affordable housing. The government found that over half of the registered "Homeless" sleep in parks, playgrounds, and carparks. Other locations include flyovers, public toilets, bus stops and 24 hour fast food restaurants. Sometimes those in prison cannot find a place after being released. For a minority it is a personal choice.
Pic: Homeless sleeping at McDonalds
According to the official figures, more thran half of the registered street sleepers say they have been homeless more than 5 years. About a third say that they have been homeless more than a decade. Social welfare have subsidy with 6 NGO’s that provide temporary accommodation for street sleepers. According to the welfare department most homeless are reluctant to use these facilities and choose to live on the streets like they have been doing before. Some of the homeless have chosen to stay in the McDonalds restaurants.
In pic: LocalHood Event sharing soup with the Homeless-2019
At LocalHood, we have mobilized the community and have collected from our lovely LocalHood neighbors, over 200 kg of dry food items for those whose living beneath the poverty line due to the present situation. There is a lot done so far but we have a long way to go...As winter approaches, the needs of the homeless will tend to increase with woolens, blankets, hot food etc. Important is to try to do our part to help the homeless and do whatever we can to support them. Every bit helps. Either by donating time, money or things. Nothing is too tiny to help others.