The Covid pandemic is taking away jobs from 30% of Hong Kongers. It is also pushing a record number of people to live on the street.
Border closure causes unemployment
According to the survey, 31% of respondents said the border closure between Hong Kong and the mainland caused them to lose their jobs or temporarily lose their jobs.
Besides, 64% said their income was affected by the border closure. Furthermore, 72% said the border closure had caused inconvenience to residents’ lives, such as being unable to go to the neighboring province of Shenzhen or other mainland cities. Therefore, more than three-quarters of respondents wanted Hong Kong and the mainland to reopen the border as soon as possible.
Homeless numbers surge to 10-year high
According to recent official statistics, the number of homeless people in Hong Kong surged to a 10-year high of almost 1,600 last year.
That was 17% higher than the 1,350 in 2019, before the pandemic, and nearly triple the 555 homeless more than ten years ago.
Female street sleepers also surged, from a mere 21 in 2012 to 179 last year.
According to local news outlet South China Morning Post, experts and social workers blamed the pandemic partly for the sharp surge in street sleepers, as people lost their jobs and income, and travel was disrupted.
Ng Wai-tung is a community organizer for the Society for Community Organization.
He said job losses and income cuts had pushed many lowly paid workers to the street to become homeless. It happens mainly in the catering, transport, and construction sectors—the industries most hit by the pandemic.
Experts and social workers think the actual number of homeless might be larger than the official one.
Regarding this situation, social welfare lawmaker Tik Chi-yuen said:
“In economically developed Hong Kong, there are still people who sleep on the streets. It is not a healthy phenomenon.”