就亞太區房屋論壇行動立場書:市建局毀人家園,仁人家園請錯嘉賓

背景:

舊區街坊自主促進組得悉國際組織「仁人家園」於香港舉辦第五屆亞太區房屋論壇,主題是探討解決低收入居民的住屋問題,竟邀請專門「毀人家園」的市區重建局(下稱市建局)作為「為建立可持續、繁盛及具復原力的城市而將社會創新帶入房屋議題」(意譯)的專題講者,對此深表不滿,聯同青山道元洲街、東京街福榮街及衙前圍村等多個重建項目受重響的居民一同前往會議場地抗議及向「仁人家園」遞信,要求其認清事實,及譴責市建局的惡行。以下是是次行動的中、英文立場書:

市建局毀人家園,仁人家園請錯嘉賓

我們是一群積極關注舊區重建的街坊和義工,得悉國際組織「仁人家園」於香港舉辦第五屆亞太區房屋論壇,主題是探討解決低收入居民的住屋問題,竟邀請專門「毀人家園」的市區重建局(下稱市建局)作為「為建立可持續、繁盛及具復原力的城市而將社會創新帶入房屋議題」(意譯)的專題講者,我們對此表示強烈不滿。

帶頭舊區豪宅化 趕絕舊區基層生計

作為公營機構,市建局一直將市區重建當作一盤賺錢的生意,口稱「以人為本」、實質「盈利至上、見錢開眼」,罔顧其社會責任。目前市建局以「拆毀舊樓,興建豪宅」的模式進行重建,我們十分質疑這是否真能夠為社區不同階層居民建立一個可持續宜居的生活。以深水埗為例,自2001年至今,市建局已經開展了十八個重建項目,不斷拆卸區內舊樓,然後興建私人豪宅取代,卻從不興建任何可以由基層市民負擔的公共房屋,一方面導致區內基層市民可負擔的房屋數量大幅減少,另一方面帶頭炒高樓市,推高區內的物價及租金,令仍然在舊區居住的居民的生活百上加斤。

再者,在拆樓的同時,市建局亦沒有任何可持續的安置規劃,只懂得要求房委會向市建局提供安置單位,卻從來沒有交還部份重建地盤給房委會興建公屋外。除了拒絕對受重建影響的基層租客作出原區安置外,更以各種苛刻條件留難居民,剝奪他們的安置權利。不少受重建影響的租客被市建局拒絕安置,只能飽受加租及逼遷之苦,終日居無定所。市建局只顧於其重建地皮上與地產商大肆牟利,根本對解決香港基層住屋的問題毫無貢獻可言,令社區不少的中低下階層市民失去原有社區網絡,間接令社區貧窮問題「可持續地」發展。

公權力收地  卻不顧社會責任

我們必須強調,市建局手握公權力,能引用《收回土地條例》強行收地,但是卻涉嫌將公共資源「利益輸送」給私人發展商。市建局的每個重建項目均與私人發展商合作,將一個又一個的重建地盤打造成天價豪宅,然後攤分利潤,如在深水埗興建的四個呎價驚人的「喜字頭」項目、灣仔利東街的「囍匯」等等,大賺特賺。然而,市建局由過去至今,一直拒絕與居民商討如何實現真正有助改善居民的生活質素及保存社區網絡的方案,拒絕接納由社區中「由下以上、居民參與」的民間規劃方案,例如H15關注組倡議的「啞鈴方案」、深水埗k20-23重建區街坊的「留低方案」、順寧道的「深水埗居民自主規劃方案」、甚至近年的衙前圍村民間規劃方案等。現任主席蘇慶和上任時已直指市建局也是發展商,可以與私人發展商互相配合,我們認為市建局現時的行逕根本就是將地區特色、社區網絡、社區經濟等重要元素破壞的主要兇手。以有過百年歷史的衙前圍村為例,市建局於與村民商討期間多次破壞協定,擅自拆毀將被保留的歷史建築,同時令其他民居受損卻拒絕修緝,威脅居民的安全,而最近更多次出現刑事毀壞甚至無故起火事件,反映市建局根本沒有提供任何保障予居民,「以人為先」的工作方針頓成空話。

要求仁人家園承認錯誤 譴責市建局

仁人家園標榜自己「『以世上人人得以安居』為理念,因為…….相信一個安全和可負擔的家園能夠為人們提供脫貧的機會」,卻於國際房屋論壇上邀請以公權力牟取暴利的市建局進行分享,提供機會讓市建局對國際社會做「形象公程」,漠視其導致社區貧窮問題持續惡化的「舊區豪宅化」以及置民居安全於不顧的強硬重建手法,實在令人不禁質疑,到底仁人家園是否如市建局般「表裡不一」,還是過於單純地被市建局的華麗包裝所欺騙?否則怎會有此於自己理念完全背道而馳的行徑?

最後,我們必須強調我們反對一切以「房屋階梯」為介入房屋問題手段的方式,我們認為住屋是基本人權,不同階層人士在住屋方式上應該有選擇的自由,而不應將任何人硬推往房屋市場上去。

我們希望是次大會,如確實以「 以世上人人得以安居」為理念,能承認是次錯誤邀請市建局為嘉賓,在該節論壇開始前,對市建局向香港舊區市民造成的惡行,予以譴責。我們亦呼籲是次論壇主辦者及與會者,切實反思,一個「以世上人人得以安居」的討論論壇,收取如此昂貴的入場費(每人$1950-$3590)、在華麗酒店舉辦,只有政界社福界領袖,而沒有對房屋有迫切需求的基層居民能參與其中,如何能真實了解「住屋權」被剝奪的市民的需要及想法?若然不能的話,是否不應再舉辦?

舊區街坊自主促進組

2015年9月3日

An open letter to Habitat for Humanity condemning the inclusion of Urban Renewal Authority in The Asia-Pacific Housing Forum 2015

We are a group of volunteers and residents who are concerned about urban redevelopment in Hong Kong. We want to express our discontent to the organization Habitat for Humanity for including Urban Renewal Authority (URA), which is notorious for destroying  people’s home during redevelopment, as one of the speakers in the section of “Bringing social innovation to housing for the creation of sustainable, thriving and resilient cities” in The Asia-Pacific Housing Forum.

URA: leading in Gentrification and the destruction of  grassroots’ livelihood.

Urban Renewal Authority, despite being a public organization, have been operating as a profit-driven business, ignoring its social responsibility and disregarding its promise of putting people as first priority during redevelopment. We are particularly critical to URA’s model of urban redevelopment, in which old buildings that housed many of the poorest families in Hong Kong are replaced exclusively with lavish and high-priced apartments.

These projects failed to forge sustainable and livable neighborhoods for communities with diverse cultural, social and economic backgrounds. Because URA have never built any public housing for grassroots,  they have merely fueled a highly speculative and lucrative housing market, pushed up rents and costs of living in the area, which exacerbated the livelihood of marginalized residents in old districts.

There is hardly any sustainable planning and fair arrangement for the relocation of residents in the redevelopment zones of URA. Currently, URA rely on Housing Authority for arranging public housing flats for relocation. Yet, no redeveloped lands were transferred to Housing Authority for building public housing. Moreover, URA have set up numerous unreasonable requirements in their relocation arrangement, and with which many residents are excluded from proper relocation, let alone the chance of being relocated to the same area. Those who are not assigned a house will have to endure skyrocketing rent, displacement and loss of social network while URA and its partnering land developers could extract enormous profit from the process.  It is evident that URA have no contribution to solving the housing crisis of Grassroots in Hong Kong, instead, they boost prices of urban property up to an unaffordable extent.

URA: a powerful institution ignoring its social responsibility

Urban Renewal Authority enjoys many forms of governmental power including one that can forcefully retrieve any land through land resumption ordinance. However, URA has a record of selling off public resource to private developers. In almost every redevelopment project, URA had worked with private developers and build lavish and high-priced flats and then share the profits. There are many examples of such collaboration, such as Heya projects in Sham Shui Po and The Avenue on Lee Tung Street, Wan Chai. Contrastingly, URA have neither accept to cooperate with local residents to discuss a plan that could truly improve residents’ living standard and maintain community network, nor accept a bottom-up planning proposition of such kind from the community, such as The Dumbbell proposition from H15 urban redevelopment concern group, The Staying proposition from K20-23 urban redevelopment concern group, the Sham Shui Po residents’ autonomous planning proposition from Shunling road urban redevelopment concern groups and the more recently Nga Tsin Wai people’s planning proposition.

Current president of URA So Hing-woh vowed to run URA as a private developer and would cooperate further with other private developers when he first resumed office. We believe that URA is the murderer of local characteristics, social networks and community economy. Villagers from historical Nga Tsin Wai village, for example, have seen numerous times URA’s broke its promises. Recently there have been many cases of arson or criminal damage in the village without any reasons, threatening villagers’ safety. There is no protection offered by URA for villagers, shows that URA is violating its “people’s first” principle.

What Habitat for Humanity should do:

admit your mistake and condemn Urban Renewal Authority

One could easily be sceptical about the credibility of Habitat of Humanity, because on one hand they claim they have the vision of having a world where everyone has a decent place to live in and the conviction that safe and affordable housing provides a path out of poverty. However, on the other hand, they give URA the opportunity to promote themselves in front of the international community, disregarding their role in the continuation of urban poverty through urban gentrification and its relentless and in-humanistic model of urban redevelopment. It makes us wonder if URA propaganda are influential enough to deceive everyone or Habitat for Humanity is as equally corrupted as URA.

Nonetheless, we oppose all kind of solutions that seeing housing ladder as the way to solve housing problem. we believe that housing is basic human right. Different communities and classes should enjoy the freedom of choosing their form of housing: there should not be any proposition that push everyone into the housing market.

If Habitat of Humanity is sincere to its vision, we believe they should correct their mistake of inviting URA to the forum, and denounce URA for what they have done to the residents in Hong Kong old districts. We also urge the organizers and participants of this forum to consider whether a discussion requiring participants to pay $1950 to $3590 for their attendance and only the present of  “leaders” from government, civil society and corporations but not the grassroots are required, could truly and thoroughly understand the need and idea of those who are in need of housing and have repeatedly lost their right to housing to governments and corporations who are now speaking for a world where everyone has a decent place to live). If the answer is no, perhaps they should consider suspending this event.

old district autonomy advancement group

3, Sep 2015

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