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Homelessness·4|The "homeless" are members of society and should enjoy the treatment of "one of our own"


In Hong Kong, where meritocracy prevails, different groups such as the media, the general public, and the government are more or less “expelling” the homeless, further pushing them to the edge. However, apart from passively accepting this indifference, social

In Hong Kong, where meritocracy prevails, different groups such as the media, the general public, and the government are more or less “expelling” the homeless, further pushing them to the edge.

However, apart from passively accepting this indifference, does society really have no power to help them?

As a part of society, what can we do for them?

"Homeless" Series Reports Part 4 of 4

Homeless people become homeless due to certain circumstances. The Christian Concern for the Homeless Association has temporary dormitories for the homeless to live in.

(File photo / photo by Gao Zhongming)

Insufficient accommodation support

According to the "Report No. 79" issued by the Director of Audit at the end of November last year, as of March 31, 2022, the number of registered street sleepers in Hong Kong reached 1,564.

In response to the urgent accommodation needs of the homeless, some non-profit organizations provide them with temporary housing and assist them in finding long-term housing with funding from the Social Welfare Department or at their own expense.

The stay in these temporary dormitories is limited to six months, and the three service teams for street sleepers and other non-service teams directly subsidized by the SWD can extend the period of stay by 40% and 50% respectively according to the actual needs of the homeless.

The above-mentioned "Audit Report" shows that 33% to 37% of the street sleepers have stayed for more than 6 months, which shows that there is a lot of demand.

Some institutions, such as churches, were originally free for homeless people to live in. However, due to the impact of the new crown virus epidemic, the operation of the organization has encountered difficulties, and the accommodation needs to be paid. Many homeless people can only leave because they cannot afford the money. , continue to wander the streets.

As for the temporary dormitory subsidized by the SWD, the monthly rent ranges from 1,440 to 2,515 yuan, mainly with bunk beds and small cubicles; you need to show your Hong Kong identity card when you check in, and you are also required to be 18 years old and able to take care of yourself.

At present, there are 6 organizations in Hong Kong providing 228 subsidized residential places in 8 locations, including 197 male residential places and 31 female residential places.

If compared with the data as of March 31, 2018, the per capita residential places for males and females decreased from 0.19 and 0.3 to 0.14 and 0.17 respectively.

Compared with the increase in the number of homeless people, the rate of increase in accommodation is very slow, and there are voices calling for an extension of the accommodation period, but the utilization rate still needs to be improved.

According to the "Audit Report", many dormitories failed to meet the agreed standard of 80% occupancy.

The homeless do not live in dormitories, mainly because of privacy and safety concerns.

Homeless Wei Ge once lived in a four-bed hotel-style dormitory, and felt that privacy was very low: "Everyone doesn't know each other, so there is nothing to say." But the most important thing is that the safety of private property cannot be guaranteed , Wei Ge came back from the shower once and found that his wallet and cash were gone, only his ID card was left.

He called the police, but the person who stole the things never returned to the dormitory, and he had to bear the losses himself.

Mr. Situ, who lived on the street for a long time and was finally assigned a public housing unit recently, also had the experience of being deceived by his roommate: He needed to buy furniture, and a roommate asked him to help, but when the other party charged more than 4,000 yuan for furniture and storage After paying the fee, I lost contact with Mr. Situ, and Mr. Situ did not receive any furniture in the end.

Mr. Situ, who used to sleep rough, recently managed to go upstairs, but encountered quality problems with the uneven floor of the house.

(Photo by Yu Junliang)

Can it be solved with a "house"?

"Homeless" usually refers to people who lack a "home" objectively and subjectively. Some people believe that the core problem of the homeless is "housing". It is believed that as long as they can have a stable home, other problems will be It will work out.

The "housing first" program implemented in the United States since the 1990s aims to provide long-term or even permanent housing services for the homeless.

The plan regards housing as the basis for improving life, and believes that only after people have basic guarantees such as food and housing can they be able to deal with problems such as finding a job and getting rid of bad habits.

As of August 2007, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a report stating that the number of homeless people had dropped by an unprecedented 30%, and that the expenditure required to provide housing services for homeless people with socially deviant behavior was less than the need to provide housing services for homeless people. Medical and security costs incurred.

This model has been extended to some countries in Western Europe, and its effectiveness has been continuously confirmed by many data.

However, some people question whether "sleeping rough" is really a problem that needs to be solved.

Social worker Yang Zining once said: "Why can't we live on the street? Why is this a problem to be solved? If some people regard the street as "home", why don't they treat it kindly? Are people on the street necessarily inhumane and must be sheltered?" She She believes that if the homeless are forced to live in sub-divided rooms and beds, the life facing four walls will deprive them of their social capital, and it will not prevent them from sleeping outdoors at all; and in her opinion, the only way to strengthen the homeless Only through our personal network can we truly support each other.

Giblert, a former homeless person, volunteered with the maintenance team of the Association of Community Organizations, helping Mr. Situ lay the floor when he just went upstairs.

(Photo by Yu Junliang)

"Re-sleeping" because of being abandoned

Regarding "re-sleeping", Wu Weidong, director of the Hong Kong Association for Community Organizations, also said that everyone needs friends, but it may be difficult for homeless people to make new friends because they have a criminal record and have taken drugs; Some homeless people are willing to go back to the original place to sleep, at least some homeless people who have established relationships.

Wu Weidong has been engaged in caring for the homeless for many years. He admitted that his job is to help the homeless build their confidence, because they feel abandoned by the society, and they will give up on themselves, and they need someone to help them.

The Social Association is coordinating projects such as the homeless football team and the homeless maintenance team.

The floor of the public housing unit assigned to Mr. Szeto was uneven, and he sought repairs to no avail. After media reports, the Housing Department arranged for a construction contractor to carry out the floor repair work, and the floor of the unit is now level.

Giblert, a former homeless man, came to help with the flooring as a volunteer with the maintenance team of the Association of Community Organizations.

Giblert once invested in a factory with a friend, but the friend ran away with the money, so he could only do part-time jobs while sleeping in McDonald's.

He learned a lot of new skills in the maintenance team, such as helping remove psyllids and repairing stairs; in addition, he will also follow other volunteer teams to visit the elderly, give gifts, and chat.

"For me, being a volunteer is helping my neighbors. One thing that Hong Kong people have is empathy." Giblert most hopes that the government can provide more medical support for the homeless, because many homeless Facing health problems.

"If you build up your confidence and become a part of the society, the society will (re)accept you." Wu Weidong also believes that homeless people don't have to "go upstairs", the key is to build their own beliefs.

He mentioned the example of Taiwan: the Taipei City Government will provide a large woven bag to each homeless person in Mengka Park (called "homeless people" in Taiwan), which will be placed in the park during the day for homeless people to store their personal belongings, and they can take it out at night Return your own things.

This can not only ensure that the personal belongings of the homeless are not cleaned up, but also keep the park tidy.

In addition, homeless people registered in Taiwan can see a dentist for free, but homeless people in Hong Kong do not enjoy the same support after being registered with government agencies.

Wu Weidong shows the bags provided by the Taipei City Government to the homeless.

(Photo by Wang Ninghui)

The "homeless" are part of society

Mengka Park in Taipei is a well-known gathering place for homeless people.

In 2011, the Taipei city government was slammed by public opinion for pouring cold water on the suspected drive away of homeless people.

Ten years later, Taipei Mayor Ke Wenzhe announced the renovation project of Bangka Park, and incorporated elements of homeless people into it, placing homeless luggage "one bag per person" at a designated location, and setting up scaffolding to improve luggage storage.

Wu Weidong also imitated the practice of Taiwan's Mengka Park and placed the same bags in Tongzhou Street Park.

"You are not responsible for the government, so let me put it away." However, the government still refused, because the authorities believed that doing so occupied public space.

"(But) basketball players also put their own bags!" Wu Weidong was very helpless about this unfair treatment.

Huang Siqi, who is now an architect, was still studying. From 2014 to 2016, she conducted two-year field research at the bottom of Tung Chau Street Bridge in Sham Shui Po, and later published what she saw and thought into a book "Home on the Street: Hong Kong Self-Building Communities”.

In the book, she refers to homeless people as "self-builders" and describes them as life experts in street self-built communities, because they understand various street situations and conditions, and know how to make good use of the surrounding environment characteristics and resources to build self-build residence.

In order to live on the street without interfering with other people's lives, self-builders have used a lot of wisdom to build their own temporary residences, such as building a simple rainproof roof with green nylon canvas, or building a sleeping area in order to use up the space. The bed is used as a dividing line and placed vertically along the rear fence.

Li Xinqi, a social designer who co-edited the book, pointed out that the space under the flyover is "not a homeless (homeless) community, but a self build community (self-built community)".

Chen Shaoming believes that the homeless group is always a minority in society, and there is relatively little attention from the outside world, so more people need to speak out for this issue.

(profile picture)

Should enjoy the treatment of "one of my own"

In fact, no other residents will use the benches in the park and the bottom of the overpass where the homeless often live; some homeless people even get up at six or seven in the morning to clean up the surrounding environment Then leave, and return to this area to rest late at night-this schedule has become a tacit understanding between many homeless people and community security personnel.

If they do not interfere with each other, can they also form a balanced pattern?

Chen Shaoming, an assistant professor of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences of the City University of Hong Kong, who has participated in the statistical work of the homeless, said that according to his observations, the public's attitude towards the homeless has improved in recent years, with more sympathy. Residents may have poorer evaluations of their communities.

Chen Shaoming believes that the homeless group is always a minority in society, and there is relatively little attention from the outside world, so more people need to speak out for this issue.

He cited the movie "Dross Water Drifting" as an example. This movie tells the homeless group in a real way-some people do steal things and take drugs, but at the same time they are also obsessed with justice. A three-dimensional and true story like this It may make it easier for the public to understand the situation of this group.

How should ordinary people deal with the homeless?

Chen Shaoming suggested that if there is no special preparation, there is no need to do special actions; if you want to express some kindness, you can go to chat, or you can do more homework, such as knowing whether there are often volunteer teams in the area who distribute meals, individuals or can Participate in relevant work, because the group is familiar with the homeless and good at integrating support resources.

He reminded: "The most important thing is respect. Don't talk to the other party in a kind of charity or savior's perspective, but treat them as equals. When the other party is willing to share his story with you, he is actually helping you. Don't just think I have helped a lot of people, and sometimes someone is willing to chat with you, which is very rare.”

Homelessness·Part 1|Three sets of numbers reveal the new normal of the homeless—Is sleeping rough a personal choice?

Homeless · 2|Homeless everywhere How far is the distance from home to the homeless?

Homeless · 3|Society believes in meritorious media labels Negative government promotes unfriendly policies Homeless · 4| "Homeless" are members of society and should enjoy the treatment of "one of us"

Source: hk1

All news articles on 2023-01-17

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