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Tin Shui Wai (TSW), a new town in Hong Kong, housing almost 300,000 people, sprang into existence in the 1990s and was named by the media as a city of misery after a number of serious family tragedies and the publicized high unemployment rate and high percentage of welfare recipients. A study was conducted to examine what has gone wrong in the planning and development of TSW. The study involved searching through town planning documents, interviews with key players in the planning and development processes, interviews and focus groups with various stake holders in the community, household survey and street-level survey on visitors and shoppers. While most of the factors identified in the study were directly or indirectly related to planning, the major issues are more related to the changes in the economy and social policies, particularly in housing policies. The original intention of having a balanced development in TSW, that is, a balanced community mix and the availability of industrial jobs, cannot be materialized due to the changes in housing policy, and partly due to the lack of private sector interest in this new town and the disappearance of the manufacturing industry in Hong Kong. Other lessons learnt will be discussed in the paper.

Full paper: Law_2009_planning_and_development.pdf

Presentation slides: Law_2009_planning_and_development_slides.pdf

The housing market in China, the nation achieving the highest economic growth rate, has recently experienced an impressive boom with skyrocketing house prices nationwide, turning in two decades of housing reform from a previously inefficient welfare-oriented housing system into a more market-oriented approach to providing housing. Underlying such stunning changes have been housing policies, recognizing the sector as having a key driving role in developing the economy due to its positive spillover effects for many other sectors, along with China's strong fundamentals, such as robust economic growth, rapid urbanization, appreciation of the Chinese currency (Renminbi), significant real demand and speculation demand for housing.

 

However, the soaring house prices and lagging housing welfare system in local areas have resulted in mass complaints because it's difficult for most ordinary citizens to afford a common flat even by monthly instalment. Overheated housing market also represents possible financial risk. Against the backcloth, in order to maintain social cohesion and stability, and sound economic development, China's housing policies have begun to move beyond housing reform. The main transformations of housing policy include placing the emphasis of housing policies on maintaining house prices and constraining speculative demand, employing diversified regulating measures rather than only administrative measures. Meanwhile, more attentions have been paid to establish a housing welfare system rather than only concentrating on housing industry development and stimulating economic growth. As a result, the recent statistical data has displayed that the transformed housing policies trigger a correction in the current housing market, such as reining in overly rapid house prices, constraining the speculative demand and developing housing welfare system.

Homelessness is a condition and social category of people lack of housing. This is because they cannot afford, or unable to maintain, regular, safe, and adequate shelter. How to help and control homeless is public issue, especially for government.

In Taiwan, different cities do not have the same standard for homeless. In Taichung city, current mayor Hu concerns very much on this issue. He instructed Social Affairs Department (SAD) to handle many problems that homeless people face. For example, lack of food; reduced access to health care; and increased risk of suffering from violence. But most social workers of SAD are female; they are not available in many circumstances. Therefore, SAD cooperate non-profit organization (NPO) to deal with this situation.

I am the director of department of social work at Tunghai University. I also voluntarily to be general secretary of family wellness association (FWA). From 2006, one major work of FWA is to recruit personnel to do temporary help service. We hire, train, supervise, and provide performance appraisal social workers, these workers then work for SAD.

From 2007, we recruit 4 dispatched workers to help homeless. These workers are named "Homeless Investigator", every night they went out on an inspection patrol and provide a variety of services to assist homeless people. They are function as bridge between government and homeless population.

My FWA colleagues and I connect government and dispatched workers. Every monthly meeting I supervise these dispatched workers to discuss their work condition. When analyze the problems the homeless population met, I emphasis positive thinking and strength building perspective. I believe "workfare" will be better choice for the homeless. My major concern is how to help the homeless to have job opportunity.

But most employers do not like to employ this population; most homeless also do not like regular work. They require the much more flexibility in arranging work time and style. So I suggest my supervisees to arrange temporary work opportunity. So homeless people may do some odd-jobs, foe example, they help temple fairs, give handbills to passerby. When some protest groups have social movement, they march in a group. They preferred to join limited and temporary social interaction, where social boundaries are unclear and norms are weak and unconventional. They would feel that they can easily participate.

Currently, we still run this program. I hope to share my experience and findings in this study.

Full paper: Peng_2009_Dual_temporary_work.pdf

Presentation slides: Peng_2009_Dual_temporary_work_slides.pdf