Householders today are increasingly concerned about bringing up their families in an improved living environment. This growing demand for better housing services is the driving force behind the Hong Kong Housing Society's mission of upgrading housing standards through construction and redevelopment projects, and providing quality property management and maintenance services to property owners.
In fact, having brought in professional estate management expertise and experience from the UK, the Housing Society is a pioneer in addressing such important issue. Margaret Chan, director (corporate services), Hong Kong Housing Society says, "About 70 per cent of our resources are dedicated to property management with 20 rental estates of our own and a portfolio of other private properties."
The Society's Building Management and Maintenance Scheme (BMMS), launched in early 2005, is a major project that comes under its property management sector. The scheme gives professional advice to the owners of aged private properties to better manage and maintain their buildings. It also offers home renovation loans to encourage owners to improve their buildings' hygiene and safety conditions of their own properties.
"While the owners of units in many older buildings are particular about the condition of their individual premises, the public area may be in a less satisfactory condition and sometimes fall into a state of disrepair," she says. "If something is not done to maintain them properly, they may gradually deteriorate into slums and become too dilapidated for living."
Such rehabilitation programmes also benefit the owners since they increase the value of individual properties in such buildings.
The Housing Society now has eight property management and advisory centres in operation to provide professional advice on proper housing management and maintenance, and aims to add two more in 2007.
The BMMS scheme is gradually winning support among owners of older properties, and already about 400 owners' corporations have been formed with its support.
"To meet Hong Kong's growing needs for property maintenance and urban renewal, we have been hiring property managers, surveyors, engineers and technical staff to work on building management and maintenance programmes," Ms Chan notes.
Meanwhile, to improve the living standard of its many tenants, the Society is carrying out an ongoing programme of rehabilitation projects on its own older estates — works that cater for present-day market needs.
Meanwhile, the Society has launched a programme of developing housing units specially designed for the use of senior citizens. "Housing for the elderly is one of our strategic focuses not only because Hong Kong's ageing population but also because of the increasing demand for higher level service," says Ms Chan.
Such homes for the elderly are custom-built and provide many extras for the well-being of the occupants. Additionally, the estates are located in places where essential services such as medical and care are easily accessible.
"Our programme gives the elderly the opportunity to live independently with the tailor-made caring services that we provide," she says. "We take good care of their needs."
The Society has about 1,020 staff, and contracts out cleaning and security services.
To better equip staff with soft and hard skills, the Society offers each member of staff a four-day training programme on a yearly basis. "We target to enhance our staff's industry knowledge through internal training," says Ms Chan. "We care for our staff's career development and provide training to stress their potential to the fullest. We believe that nurturing the right talents can help advance the Society's good work. We also subsidise our staff in studying work-related courses and offer them good career prospects with the Society," Ms Chan remarks. "We must continue upgrading our service quality to keep pace with the market changes as our tenants are more demanding nowadays. Further, our services must also be in line with changes in the environment, and our own standards of integrity."