By Poyi (Natalie) Leung
A group of former social housing applicants petitioned the government yesterday for the permission to be restored their application eligibility and returned to the waiting list.
The residents said in the letter of petition that they were removed from the social housing waiting list because their income exceeded the ceilings; however, ceilings were subsequently raised between 16 and 20 percent in recent months.
In spite of several attempts to petition the Housing Bureau (IHM), the residents said the bureau rejected their request citing the disqualification was carried out in line with the law.
“We had been waiting for [social housing allocation] many years but because we merely went beyond the income caps and we were disqualified, it is very unfair,” they complained.
Tang Iok Ha, at 67, earns MOP 3,400 a month as a cleaner while her husband, at 73, is a doorman of a building near the Guia Hill area and earns around MOP 4,000.
Tang told the Macau Daily Times their income, totalled at MOP 7,400, did not go over the ceiling for a two-member household of MOP 9,100 before July 1 when the new income caps came into effect.
However, in mid-2010 she said she began to receive the aged pension from the Social Welfare Bureau which consequently made her household income exceed the cap and her name was removed from the waiting list.
The social housing income ceiling for a two-person household is now MOP 10,560.
Unable to afford rent in Macau, Tang said she and her husband do not have a “stable residence” and sometimes stay with their daughter or at their relative’s apartments.
Vong Oi Leng and her ex-husband divorced six years ago and has lived with her now 21-year-old daughter ever since. The 50-year-old mother told the MDTimes her ex-husband applied for social housing a year before they separated and in May this year she was notified by the IHM that their place on the waiting list was removed since the bureau was unable to contact her ex-husband.
Vong is unemployed and her daughter is still studying at university. She spends MOP 3,000 a month on renting a small flat in Areia Preta. “I also couldn’t reach my ex-husband for all these years […] Life is very tough for us now.”
The New Macau Association is helping these residents liaise with the government. One of its members and lawmaker Au Kam San said the government has to restore their eligibility since they were only disqualified because the income caps were “unreasonably low” before.
“Most of the affected residents are elderly and were removed from the waiting list because of having exceeded the income limits – some even only by MOP 60. They have become the victims of unreasonable income caps,” Au said.
The lawmaker added that he hopes Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On will give a “direct response” to the matter during the question and answer session at the Legislative Assembly today.