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Ombudsman probes mechanisms used to review and monitor eligibility of existing tenants in subsidised public housing

12 June 2014

The Ombudsman, Ms Connie Lau, today (June 12) initiated a direct investigation under section 7(1)(a)(ii) of The Ombudsman Ordinance (Cap. 397) into the effectiveness of mechanisms used by the Housing Department (HD) and the Hong Kong Housing Society (HKHS) to review and monitor the eligibility of existing tenants in subsidised public housing.

 

Public housing units are in short supply in Hong Kong, with over 240,000 applicants presently on the Waiting List. The HD and HKHS provide public rental housing and rental estate units respectively to citizens who cannot afford the high rents of the private property market. The two organisations use separate mechanisms to review the eligibility of existing tenants for subsidised public housing. They have also set up a co-ordinating system to prevent their tenants from obtaining double housing subsidies.

 

Nevertheless, in handling public complaints, the Office of The Ombudsman has found that some families have simultaneously occupied two public housing units provided by the HD and HKHS, but both organisations have failed to take prompt follow-up action to rectify the problem.

 

In this connection, The Ombudsman considers it necessary to investigate the co-ordinating system between the HD and HKHS in tackling double housing subsidy cases, and their respective mechanisms to review and monitor the eligibility of existing tenants, in order to identify areas for improvement.

 

Ms Lau said, “Public housing units are valuable public resources. They should be allocated reasonably and in a timely way to benefit those in genuine need.  However, our investigation of complaint cases revealed that there might be loopholes in the review and monitoring mechanisms of the HD and HKHS as well as in their co-ordinating system, resulting in some families acquiring an additional housing unit.  Should this stem from systemic problems, the fair allocation of public housing resources may be compromised, and the waiting time for those on the Waiting List unreasonably lengthened.”

 

This direct investigation will examine:

 

(1)    the review and monitoring mechanisms of the HD and HKHS, and the co-ordinating system between them, to prevent double housing subsidy to tenants; and

 

(2)    their mechanisms to review and monitor the existing tenants’ eligibility for subsidised housing.

 

The Ombudsman welcomes public views on this direct investigation.  Comments in writing should reach the Office of The Ombudsman by July 11:

 

Address    : 30/F, China Merchants Tower, Shun Tak Centre

 

168-200 Connaught Road Central, Hong Kong

 

Fax            : 2882 8149

 

Email        : complaints@ombudsman.hk

 

 

Office of The Ombudsman

 

12 June 2014

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