Thursday, November 26, 2015   

Rents plea for asylum seekers

Eddie Luk

Monday, October 07, 2013

The government should consider increasing rental and financial assistance for asylum seekers, the International Social Service Hong Kong Branch says.

Migrants program director Adrielle Panares said the rental subsidy is too low.

Asylum seekers and torture claimants find it difficult to rent a unit on a monthly rental allowance of HK$1,200, Panares said.

Some have even chosen to live in converted pigeon farms in the northern New Territories so that they may have their own rooms and lower rents.

"There is a very slow increase in terms of the amount allocated from 2006 to 2013," Panares said.

"Over the past seven years, the monthly allowance for rents has increased from HK$1,000 to HK$1,200.


"Sometimes our clients insist they should live in one room per person, which means that the monthly rent is more than HK$1,200."

She said the government should consider increasing the amount of rental subsidies for asylum seekers.

"The government sets the amount and gives us the budget," she said. "The job of ISS-HK is to look into whether clients qualify for assistance and meet the criteria. If they do, we give the maximum amount that we can give and even that might not be enough."

The Social Welfare Department has commissioned the ISS-HK to provide services to torture claimants and asylum seekers since 2006. About 4,700 have received assistance.

Panares rejects claims that an increase in assistance will lure more people to Hong Kong for welfare. The assistance is in kind, not in cash, she said. "I doubt if there are many people coming to Hong Kong because of that."

Asylum seekers generally don't want to stay in Hong Kong permanently and see it as a stopover to elsewhere.

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