|An elderly woman sleeps at a branch of McDonald's|
|A woman was found dead in a McDonald's in Kowloon Bay|
The Social Welfare Department offers short-term hostel placement, employment guidance, and emergency funds to cover short-term rent payments and other living expenses.
While it's nice to know the department will help out financially in a pinch, temporary housing is not the answer for these homeless people.
|Subdivided flats are expensive and cramped, dirty too|
Although he has been offered public rental housing three times, he has refused each time, as the location is in an inaccessible area that transportation costs would be high.
While Sham Shui Po and Tai Kok Tsui have been areas with cheap housing, the government has been gentrifying these areas, making housing more expensive for people who are scraping a living.
A bed space costs HK$1,800 to over HK$2,000, while a sub-divided room can cost HK$3,000.
Social workers have lobbied the government to set aside social housing and communal areas for these low-income people, but people have the "not in my backyard" mentality.
However, when people are given a place to sleep and keep their possessions, earn a living and be able to maintain a sense of dignity, it gives these people hope, and helps them not only to socialize with others, but also makes them feel a part of the community.
Isolation, says social workers, is the real root of the homelessness problem.
"It's okay in the first year or two of rough sleeping, but stepping into the fourth and fifth year, it's hard not to have some sort of mental issues as well as other illnesses," says Wong Hung, associate professor in social work at Chinese University.
We go back to what Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah said earlier, that HK12,000 was too much to pay for a dishwasher.
Has he and his colleagues visited these "McSleepers" and asked them how much they need to live a dignified life? The minimum would probably be HK$12,000 if not more.
And why is he sitting on trillions of dollars in reserves when we have at least 1,500 homeless people who need shelter, and over a million others who cannot afford to buy enough food to eat each day?
We pay taxes for a good reason -- to help those in need.
We are a rich city, and yet the buck stops with Tsang, for no good reason.
We ask again -- why is he our Financial Secretary?