The issue of homelessness in Hong Kong is not straightforward – and there is not one solution for tackling the problem. This project is designed to shed light on a rising demographic in Hong Kong that is invisible to most. Here, we provide further information about the issue and set out some of the different ways that you can act to tackle this problem.
"The number of people sleeping on the streets has almost tripled over the past decade from 600 in 2004 to 1,614 in October 2015" - H.O.P.E., a citywide headcount survey by 300 volunteers from 5 universities and 4 non-governmental organisations.
Above all else, people sleeping on the streets should not be reduced to a blanket characterisation of ‘homeless’. These are people who are increasingly finding themselves sleeping on the streets out of economic necessity in the face of soaring rent prices and poor public housing conditions. It is a complex social issue that requires the collective efforts from various government departments, welfare organisations and concern groups to work towards a sustainable solution.
By understanding the reasons for homelessness in Hong Kong, you’re in a stronger position to take meaningful action. The following articles have been included as a starting point.
Hong Kong's "New Homeless" Epidemic
Chinese University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s working homeless: High rents push working people onto the streets
Hong Kong Free Press
Hong Kong’s shame: homeless numbers soar amid high rents and squalid living conditions
South China Morning Post
While one-off food hand-outs do not address the root causes of homelessness, they can ease the everyday strain of sleeping on the streets and provide volunteers an opportunity to share kindness and empathy with these individuals. Participating in one of the many hand-outs around the city can give you powerful insight into the backgrounds and everyday realities of people experiencing homelessness.
Beyond food handouts, there are also broader volunteering opportunities with the following groups:
The Society for Community Organization (SOCO) is active on a range of social issues in Hong Kong. They provide direct services for people living on the streets – and also lobby the government to address the root causes of the problem.
The Guest Room organises regular hand-outs every week with a dedicated group of volunteers through their ImpactHK program, focusing on areas like Sham Shui Po, Yau Ma Tei and Happy Valley. They also partner with various local businesses to raise money and provisions, including hot meals and laundry service coupons.
Ming Gor is the owner of Pei Ho Barbecue Restaurant in Sham Shui Po and has been leading a local movement since 2008 through handing out meal boxes. You can email email@example.com to go and help out, or sponsor a meal through the new #FreeHKMeals initiative.
Khalsa Diwan Sikh Temple provides free meals on a nightly basis to the homeless communities in Causeway Bay and Wan Chai and is also developing a range of services for underprivileged people in Hong Kong.
The People’s Food Bank and People’s Canteen are affiliated with St James’ Settlement and provide emergency meals and food supplies to people experiencing homelessness on Hong Kong Island. They receive subsidies from the Hong Kong government but predominantly rely on donations and the assistance of volunteers.
The Grocery was started by a small group of university students who collect material donations and match these with individual needs, ensuring they receive items that will benefit them, most of which are often overlooked such as batteries, reusable utensils and sewing kits.
Contact your local Hong Kong legislative representative and tell them that homelessness and inequality in Hong Kong is an important issue to you.
If you would like to support existing organisations that work in this area, there are a number of options.
(Further information about the following groups is detailed in the ‘Get Involved’ section.)
The Guest Room is in the final stages of becoming a registered charity and will soon be launching The Second Coat, a job training program that will equip individuals with the necessary experience to develop their skills and get a job with a partnering company.
Are we missing something? Can you recommend other programs or organisations that should be included here? If so, please contact us.