URA's $250m grants give new life to old homes

The Urban Renewal Authority has sponsored over HK$250 million in renovation works for more than 6,000 home owners in old buildings, its chief executive, Wai Chi-sing, said.

In a blog post yesterday, Wai said the URA has been in charge of the building maintenance grant scheme for old buildings across the city since June 2020, which subsidizes homeowners who cannot afford renovations.

He said in the past, only the elderly aged 60 or above who meet the income and asset limits could apply for this scheme, but the eligibility has been extended to anyone on the dole.

Each applicant can receive up to HK$80,000, which can be used for repainting or changing of tiles, toilets, bathtubs, doors, metal gates and windows. More than 60 percent of the grants were used for these purposes.

The grant can also be used for maintenance works in public areas, such as pillars, ceilings, walls and pipes.

Wai shared the case of a resident who has lived in a 60-year-old flat in Cheung Sha Wan for more than 40 years.

Chu, who is in his 70s, said he had seen water seep into his flat from the wall outside for 10 years, rendering it "unlivable."

He added: "The kitchen posed the most serious problem, with concrete pieces falling from the ceiling many times while we were cooking."

However, Chu had no income as he was retired and his savings weren't enough to cover the repairs.

So, Chu applied for the maintenance grant scheme last July.

His application was approved in September and the works were completed early this year.

Chu was satisfied with the project, saying he can now live "safely and securely."

The URA has another four grants that target renovations of common areas since June 2020 - operation building bright 2.0, the fire safety improvement works subsidy scheme, the lift modernization subsidy scheme, and the building drainage system repair subsidy scheme.

As of the end of last month, more than 5,000 applications have been approved for these schemes, with the total subsidies amounting to HK$820 million.