Sham Tseng Light Housing
In view of the challenges associated with the shortage of housing supply in Hong Kong, Chow Tai Fook Charity Foundation (the Foundation) supported local social enterprise Light Be to revitalise the staff quarters of an abandoned former textile factory in Sham Tseng into Hong Kong’s first social housing “Light House” in 2015. This project seeks to provide affordable housing for temporarily impoverished households, enabling them to settle down while helping them create a positive lifestyle and ultimately rebuild upward mobility.
In addition to the revitalisation works, the Foundation also donated to the social enterprise to implement the six-year “Family Support Programme”. The programme aims at helping the residents set appropriate personal development goals according to their background and needs, which include savings. The purpose is to empower these families to become self-reliant and stay out of poverty. The programme also strives to build a small community of mutual support through a variety of social activities.
The five-storey innovative social housing is built with 45 units, each occupying an area of over 300 square feet. Grassroots families who want to apply for this programme will have to be recommended by a social worker via a social welfare organisation. Since its launch in 2016, the project has empowered over 85 temporarily impoverished households and benefitted around 300 people, helping them achieve upward mobility without relying on social welfare.
When Light Be first prepared to kick start the Light Housing project, which is a rather innovative concept, there was not any government funding in support of the development of social housing. Since there was no track record of social innovation, we needed the support of private charitable foundations like the Chow Tai Fook Charity Foundation. They have played a very important role in social innovation projects especially because of their agile, flexible and pragmatic approach
We used to reside with my mother-in-law, but the living space was shallow and small. After I gave birth to my children, we were referred by a social worker and moved in the Sham Tseng Light Housing. Prior to that, we had accumulated debts of over HK$100,000 and our income was used up almost every month. Three years after residing in the Sham Tseng Light Housing, we have paid off most of our loans and even saved HK$60,000 to HK$70,000. My husband’s monthly income is almost twice as before and at the end of the lease, we were able to rent a private apartment