More than 1,000 young Hongkongers have shown interest in applying for 200 places in a youth hostel at Nina Hotel in Tsuen Wan West since the project was announced less than two weeks ago, one of the project representatives said on Monday.

Nina hotel youth hostel Tsuen Wan West gym room
The gym room of Nina Hotel Tsuen Wan West. Photo: Lea Mok/HKFP.

Nina Hotel’s Home2 Youth Hostel has become the second combination hotel and youth hostel project approved by the Home and Youth Affairs Bureau. During Chief Executive John Lee’s first Policy Address last year, he vowed to provide about 3,000 discounted hostel places for young people, adding that tenants will be required to complete community service of no less than 200 hours.

The youth accommodation will be operated by a pro-establishment NGO, the Y. Elites Association, while continuing to be a part of the estate developer Chinachem Group.

It is expected to accommodate around 200 under the city’s 2011 Youth Hostel Scheme, designed to offer affordable rents to Hong Kong permanent residents aged 18 to 30.

Twin ensuite rooms with sea views at the Tsuen Wan hotel were priced at HK$4,980, while the monthly rent for a twin ensuite with a city view and single ensuite rooms was HK$4,680, according to Lawrence Lam, vice chairman of the hostel operator. Rooms have an average area of about 350 to 400 square feet.

Young Hongkongers with a monthly income of no more than HK$25,000 and a total net asset value of no more than HK$380,000 are eligible to apply for a place in the hostel. Tenants can live in the subsidised accommodation for up to five years.

Nina hotel youth hostel Tsuen Wan West
The press conference on requirements for youth hostel tenants on May 8, 2023. Photo: Lea Mok/HKFP.

Lam pledged that hostel tenants would be treated the same as other residents in the hotel, adding that public housing applicants are also eligible to file an application for the hostel.

Applications for the Home2 Youth Hostel opened on Monday, and the deadline for the first stage of application is May 30.

‘Life point’

Like other subsidised hostels, the Home2 Youth Hostel will measure tenants’ participation in community service and hostel events.

During a press conference on Monday, representatives for the the youth hostel introduced the concept of a “Life Triangle,” requiring tenants to earn “Life Points” by joining designated activities that covered three topics: life planning, life skills, and community participation and outreach.

If they earn more than 200 life points, tenants could get discounted or fee-free use of the swimming pool and gym in the hotel. Prizes and restaurants discounts can be redeemed with Life Points, too.

Jaime Sze Wine-him Nina hotel youth hotel
Jaime Sze Wine-him, executive director and chief executive officer of the Prosperous Future Holdings Limited.

The hostel operator said it would focus on hosting cultural programmes for its tenants, such as a life planning project on art, literature and creativity, and activities related to the 24 Chinese solar terms.

Residents will also need to take care of other tenants on shifts, one of the representatives of the operator said without elaborating on the details.

“The country and the Hong Kong government have both put tremendous attention to the youth in recent years… and we managed to accomplish this in less than a year since John Lee proposed it,” founder of the Y. Elites Association Jamie Sze said, adding that the organisation hoped the youth would give back to society.

Community service

The Youth Development Blueprint, formulated by the government in 2022, featured over 160 indicators relating to housing, entrepreneurialism and career development, as well as nurturing patriotism – all designed to help the city’s youth participate in society and reach their potential.

Po Leung Kuk Lee Shau Kee Youth Oasis youth hostel BeLIVING Youth Hub
The Po Leung Kuk Lee Shau Kee Youth Oasis (left) and the BeLIVING Youth Hub (right). Photo: supplied.

The blueprint also aimed to increase the supply of youth hostels and support young people to find jobs or start businesses in the Greater Bay Area.

According to the guidelines issued by the Home and Youth Affair Bureau, community service projects included tutoring underprivileged pupils.

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Lea Mok is a multimedia reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously contributed to StandNews, The Initium, MingPao and others. She holds a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.