Skip to main content
Feature Stories

Dedicated Team Closely Assists Elderly Owners on Building Maintenance Grant Applications

cover photoApart from helping the elderly in submitting the required documents, URA staff will also render inspection onsite offering professional advice to elderly applicants on building rehabilitation.

Apart from the increasing demand for building rehabilitation subsidy and assistance, the “Building Maintenance Grant Scheme for Needy Owners” (BMGSNO), launched by the URA in July, has also drawn a large number of elderly applicants, much beyond URA’s expectation. To cope with the demand for service, the URA has set up a dedicated team in the Building Rehabilitation Division to handle elderly people’s enquiries and applications. In view of the extra patience required to explain and assist elderly applicants, the team has come up with different ways to guide the elderly throughout the application process.

groupphoto1Alan (1st from left) and Bobo (2nd from right) both say their hard work pays off when seeing elderly owners are able to renovate their homes with the grants. Alice (2nd from left) and Kelvin (1st from right) treasure the sweet moments when receiving greeting calls from the elderly.

Taking over the administration of the scheme from the Hong Kong Housing Society in July, the enhanced BMGSNO provides maintenance subsidy of $40,000 to 80,000 to owners who live in their own properties. The scope of the scheme has expanded to cover owner-occupiers who are aged 60 or above, or recipients of the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme and Disability Allowance, and the asset limit for applicants has also been relaxed. Since both the amount of subsidy and number of eligible applicants have increased, the URA has received up to 600 applications each month and over a thousand enquiries a day at peak level.

groupphoto2Elderly owner applicant Pao (centre) commends URA staff Alice (1st from right) for helping her in successfully applying for grants to fix her leaking bay window. Another colleague Kelvin says he is willing to lend his ear to the elderly and listen to them with sympathy.

With 90% of the applicants being elderly, the team is faced with the toughest task of ensuring the submission of all required documents, such as copies of their Old Age Living Allowance and Disability Allowance. The frontline staff have to patiently explain and assist the applicants throughout the procedures. They sometimes even play the roles of social workers and listen to the elderly. For applicants who are physically weak or with restricted mobility, the URA would arrange on-site service to have staff bringing in all required documents and complete the procedures in the applicants’ homes. For applicants with dementia, the URA staff will simplify or exempt some procedures to assist the elderly owners.

workingOld window frames are being replaced with new ones in Pao's flat upon the granting of building maintenance allowance.

To the BMGSNO Team, helping elderly with their applications are tasks that require patience and care. To allow applicants’ family members to stay in the loop of the application process, the URA will soon launch a new communication system to contact the elderly or their immediate family via SMS. To encourage more eligible elderly owners to apply, the team have also prepared special gifts, such as electronic pill boxes with alarms and towels for those who have completed their application procedures, as an extra incentive for them to submit all required documents as soon as possible.

groupphoto3Building rehabilitation Staff at URA's Cheung Sha Wan office address enquiry from elderly owners.

trndering6To encourage more eligible elderly owners to apply and submit all required documents, URA has prepared special gifts, such as electronic pill boxes with alarms for those who have completed their application procedures.

Alan Lui, Senior Manager of Building Rehabilitation, added, “We understand the elderly owners wish to receive their grants promptly but we are obligated to ensure the good use of money from the public purse. The setting up of the BMGSNO team is to assist the elderly applicants closely, ease their burden and help them obtain the grant to revamp their homes soon.”

groupphoto5Alan (right) and Bobo (left) say the URA would arrange on-site service for applicants who are physically weak or with restricted mobility.