Ex-TSA school converting to transitional housing, inheriting the mission of benefiting the community

The construction of The Salvation Army ‘To・Gather’ @ Sam Shing Transitional Housing Project (The Salvation Army ‘To・Gather’ @ Sam Shing) will commence on 1st March 2022 . Ex-Salvation Army Sam Shing Chuen Lau Ng Ying School premises will be converted to transitional housing, which helps the disadvantaged that are in poor living conditions by providing short-term relief and restore their hope to life. Dr Raymond SO Wai-man BBS JP, Under Secretary for Transport and Housing of Transport and Housing Bureau, The Honorable Kenneth LAU Ip-keung BBS MH JP, Chairman of New Territories Heung Yee Kuk and Lieutenant-Colonel Bob LEE, Officer Commanding of The Salvation Army Hong Kong and Macau Command filmed short speeches for the commencement and wished the project every success.

Comprehensive support for the physical and spiritual needs of tenants
The Salvation Army has obtained approval from Transport and Housing Bureau for the application of conversion of ex-Salvation Army Sam Shing Chuen Lau Ng Ying School premises in February 2021. The 5-year project, names The Salvation Army ‘To・Gather’ @ Sam Shing Transitional Housing Project, aims at providing a suitable living environment for grassroots families and single people. It is expected to provide 123 units and to serve around 400 needy.

‘To • Gather’ has the meaning of self-cultivation and family unity. Besides providing suitable accommodation, the project shall lead the tenants to cultivate themselves, manage housework and build homes with peers. The project also provides them with diversified service support on the basis of housing, like social services and Corps (church) support, to name but a few. We care for the needs of the tenants and enriching their body, mind and inner spirit. Some facilities and spaces in the school building will be reserved for public spaces, which expects to allow the tenants of the project and Sam Shing Estate to interact, integrate, build a harmonious community, and unite as a big family to achieve the mission of benefiting the community.

Project received supports and blessings from all parties
This project is blessed to receive strong support from various parties, including the Transport and Housing Bureau. The task force on transitional housing under the Bureau has been actively advocating, facilitating and participating in various short-term initiatives proposed and implemented by non-governmental organisations, with a view to increasing the supply of transitional housing. The works relieve the pressure of those living in severely inadequate housing conditions and having waited for public housing for a long time.

Dr Raymond SO Wai-man BBS JP, Under Secretary for Transport and Housing was very grateful to The Salvation Army for its contribution to the transitional housing project. He believed The Salvation Army had educated a lot of talents when the school was still in operation. He said the Army had made good use of this school premises this time by providing multi-level and multi-dimensional support to the needy, so the contribution in this community was evident. ‘The Transport and Housing Bureau will keep close contact with The Salvation Army team to make sure that the project can take care of families in need. I wish the construction works of project a smooth operation,’ said Dr So.

The Honorable Kenneth LAU Ip-keung BBS MH JP, Chairman of New Territories Heung Yee Kuk said, his late father Lau Wong-fat, to commemorate his grandmother Lau Ng Ying in 1980, specially donated the preliminary expenses to name the school as The Salvation Army Sam Shing Chuen Lau Ng Ying School, which provided quality education to the children and supported the community. Although the school completed its mission of educating talents ten years ago, the school premises will be converted into a transitional housing. Lau said, ‘I believe that with the school now reborn as a transitional housing, it can provide adequate housing conditions for the grassroots families and single person, serving the needy in the community again. On a similar rationale as my father’s donation in funding a school, it is hoped that the project will help more people in need.’

Lieutenant-Colonel Bob LEE, Officer Commanding of The Salvation Army Hong Kong and Macau Command, had especially acknowledge the tremendous support from the Transportation and Housing Bureau. ‘We are glad to have the opportunity to restore the site of our former school premises into a transitional housing project. We believe that this ‘To • Gather’ project can fulfil the urgent housing needs of these families by providing them with an adequate, safe and secured housing in a pleasant environment.’ He added that, The Salvation Army has been serving the Tuen Mun community for several decades. Coming back to this former School premises has given the Army another opportunity to renew and strengthen our bonds and the ‘togetherness’ with the community. Various ministries of The Salvation Army will come together to serve the tenants with guidance and catering to their physical, mental, and spiritual needs, and to provide a transforming opportunity for others with our love and care.

The Salvation Army is experienced in operating community housing projects. We understand the needs of the grassroots. The Army’s singleton hostel Sunrise House, Yee On Hostel and ‘Community Housing Movement – To Kwa Wan Project’ have helped many low-income individuals and grassroots families integrate into the community and build a new life. The Army will use these experiences, combined with years of professional service in Tuen Mun, to operate The Salvation Army ‘To・Gather’ @ Sam Shing Project. It will serve more people in need, build a new life together, and create a harmonious and inclusive community.

About The Salvation Army ‘To・Gather’ @ Sam Shing Transitional Housing Project
Ex-Salvation Army Sam Shing Chuen Lau Ng Ying School has been vacant after its closing in 2011. In view of the housing problems having plagued many grassroots families in recent years, The Salvation Army made an application to the Transport and Housing Bureau for conversion of the school premises to transitional housing in October 2020. It was officially approved in February 2021. The construction of the project will be commenced on 1st March 2022. It is tentatively planned to complete within the year and arrange for flat in-take.

The Salvation Army ‘To・Gather’ @ Sam Shing is expected to provide 123 units and to serve around 400 needy people. The units include about 70% of 3-4 person units, about 30% of 1-2 person units, and also barrier-free units.

Meanwhile, The Salvation Army shall establish the metrics called ‘BMIs’ (Body, Mind, Inner Spirit). A comprehensive assessment of the physical, psychological and spiritual aspects of the tenants will be conducted. It is hoped that through our all-rounded service, the residents can take care of their overall needs by helping the tenants establish healthy habits, cultivate a positive attitude towards life and inner joy, enhance self-confidence, promote self-healing and improve their quality of life.

The project will be open for recruitment in the future. Eligibility criteria includes persons or households who have been in the waiting list of The Public Rental Housing application for 3 years or more, living in unfavorable environment and with genuine need for transitional housing. More details will be announced in future.

About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army is an international Christian church and charity working in 132 countries and areas. We are called to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are dedicated to supporting the people in need in Hong Kong, Macau and Mainland China; and strive to respond to local needs, emergencies and disasters with the love of God. Our work spans a diverse range of areas including, but not limited to: Church Ministries, Social Services, Educational Services, Recycling Programme, Booth Lodge, Women’s Ministries, China Project Ministries, Macau Ministries and Emergency Relief.