The government announced the Youth Hostel Program in 2011 and six projects are planned with over 2,000 rental spaces, but the fastest project still won’t be implemented until mid-2018. The YoungDAB ran a petition outside government headquarters hoping that the government will speed up the construction of youth hostels, to increase the number of hostels and to loosen 5 years limit on the terms of residence for youth hostels. The Youth Hostel Program requests the applicants to withdraw their applications for public rental housing. We also hope this restriction can be loosened.
Currently 6 NGOs are participating in the Youth Hostel Program. The hostel being planned at 2 Po Heung Street in Tai Po Market is slated for completion in mid-2018 at the earliest. Over half of the hostel rental spaces will be built at Ma Tin Pok in Shap Pat Heung in Yuen Long, but this will not be completed until mid-2020 at least. The YoungDAB hopes the government will speed up related projects and allow eligible applicants to move in as soon as possible and therefore cut down on the financial burden on these people caused by high rents elsewhere.
Hong Kong apartments are very expensive, but the youth hostels limit their terms of residence to 5 years. There is no way that young people can pay off their first mortgage in this timeframe. The YoungDAB proposes that the government should consider loosening this requirement from 5 to 10 years and allow residents sufficient time to save enough money and be well prepared to purchase their first property. Also, the YoungDAB asks the government to assist young people to get on the property ladder. The YoungDAB suggests that the government should refer to the local first-time homebuyers scheme and allow private developers to set aside land for youth rental units when building private housing through land prices and conditions of sale to alleviate the land shortage.
On another front, the rent for youth hostels should be 40% of market price, and combined with the administration fee, a single rental unit for one person comes to at least $2000/month. This is definitely a financial burden on young people starting their careers. Apart from the market price, the YoungDAB proposes the government to consider the ability of young people to bear this financial burden when setting the rent.