he Home and Youth Affairs Bureau held a Youth Development Blueprint press conference today (December 20). (From left) Deputy Secretary for Home and Youth Affairs (Youth Affairs) Wallace Lau Ka-ki, Permanent Secretary for Home and Youth Affairs Shirley Lam Shuet-lai; Secretary for Home and Youth Affairs Alice Mak Mei-kuen, and Under Secretary for Home and Youth Affairs Clarence Leung Wang-ching unveil the Youth Development Blueprint at the press conference on Dec 20, 2022. (PHOTO / PHOTO / INFORMATION SERVICES DEPARTMENT, HKSAR)
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government on Tuesday unveiled its first Youth Development Blueprint, with over 160 measures to support over two million young people, including setting up a mobile app, adding 3,000 new youth hostel places, and relaunching the Starter Homes Project to help first-time homebuyers.
The city government aims to integrate fragmented policies and make youth work more systematic and sustainable, by covering a wide range of areas such as education, employment, housing, social services in the blueprint, said Secretary for Home and Youth Affairs Alice Mak Mei-kuen at a news conference on Tuesday afternoon.
In one innovative move, the government will launch a one-stop information mobile app for young people to learn about various youth development programs.
To better serve the housing needs of young people, the government will expand its youth hostel scheme, which provides subsidies for nongovernmental organizations to rent suitable hostels and guesthouses as youth hostels
Also, a “youth dashboard” project will be launched, under which officials will regularly collect information and data on issues which concern young people, and take them as references when formulating policy. Data will also be uploaded to the government website for the public to check, Mak said.
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To better serve the housing needs of young people, the government will expand its youth hostel scheme, which provides subsidies for nongovernmental organizations to rent suitable hostels and guesthouses as youth hostels. Under the new program, the government aims to offer about 3,000 new places at youth hostel in five years.
Young tenants will need to pay only 60 percent of the market price; in return, they will be required to provide volunteer services to the community.
The “Starter Homes Project for Hong Kong Residents” will also be rebooted to help more youngsters purchase affordable housing.
According to the government, more than 85 percent of previous applicants for the program were aged 40 or younger. The project, which was introduced in 2017, aims to help first-time buyers who do not qualify for subsidized housing and can’t afford private flats in affordable housing.
Meanwhile, the government will create a brand-new youth network to serve as a long-term platform for youth engagement.
It will bring together past participants of various youth development programs, which were organized, funded, or coordinated by the bureau.
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The youth network will enable young people to contribute to the community and develop their skills by offering a range of opportunities for community involvement, volunteer work, talent development, diverse experience.
Other measures include boosting national education among youngsters, and increasing the annual beneficiaries of a youth internship project with the Chinese mainland and overseas to 4,800 people by 2024.
Lawmaker and youth leader Nixie Lam Lam said the blueprint can help coordinate and integrate youth policies, praising the “youth dashboard” project as an innovative move. Lam said the project can help to gather young people’s opinions more effectively, thus helping the government review the progress and effectiveness of its youth policies.
Business leader Tan Yueheng, who is also a lawmaker, said the blueprint enables the government’s top-level framework on youth work to take shape.
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Tan said he hopes the government can regularly monitor and evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of policies covered in the blueprint, as well as continue to introduce more effective measures to help local youth improve their lives.