How we’re helping families in Hong Kong survive the COVID-19 crisis

Many tenants in Hong Kong live in tiny, subdivided flats and are struggling to cope. We’ve launched a fund to help them

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The tenants of many subdivided flats – a form of rental housing which provides an average living area of below 60 square feet per person, with basic utilities – are being laid off or taking pay cuts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many had low incomes even before this crisis, and have seen that situation worsen since.

On April 20, we launched a joint programme with the Hong Kong Council of Social Service (HKCSS) to subsidise families living in subdivided units in Hong Kong. We received an overwhelming response. The initial quota of 2,000 subsidies was applied for in just three days, and we introduced a second phase on April 27, inviting our corporate clients and partners to contribute.

We’ve received a heart-warming response to that invitation. Our clients and partners committed close to HKD20 million (USD2.6 million), and this, in addition to our initial HKD10 million (USD1.3 million) donation and our commitment to match HKD10 million of our clients’ donations, has meant the programme has raised almost HKD40 million (USD5.2 million) for families in subdivided units.

“As well as providing the usual business support to our clients,” said Mary Huen, CEO, Standard Chartered Hong Kong, “we would also like to join hands with our clients and partners to provide timely assistance to the underprivileged during this difficult period.”

“I am really happy and grateful,” said one of the beneficiaries, who is a mother of two. “I was shedding tears of happiness when my application was approved.”

Our colleagues have also showed tremendous support for the initiative. Almost a hundred of them have volunteered their time doing data entry work at the HKCSS to speed up the application process, making sure the subsidies get to the beneficiaries as soon as possible. Others are spending time giving online skills training for children of subsidised families to help them learn and grow during the lockdown.

For more on how we’re helping the communities we operate in get through this crisis, click here.