Solving eviction frictions in our city of lights
Return recently to the office, it was a little unsettling to not see the familiar office cleaner with her vacuum and duster as I sipped my coffee – not just for a day but for a whole two weeks, there was no usual whizz and vroom around the corridor in the mornings. “What happened?” I asked a colleague. “Oh, she is trying to save her home – her landlord kicked her out.” was the reply.
I was embarrassed that I had only said hello to “Sister In” a few times; I felt a little guilty and also outraged that an essential worker like her could be evicted from their home during the pandemic. Over lunch, I asked a friend about what help could be offered. “Get in touch with Pro Bono HK. They offer legal assistance to those who are just above the threshold to be eligible for government legal aid. Not sure if they are still up and running due to Covid though.”
I looked up Pro Bono HK and got in touch with their volunteer and explained Sister In’s situation. “Yes, we’ve received so many such cases recently. Many don’t know what their legal rights are, don’t know who to trust and don’t have time as they are working two jobs already trying to make ends meet during the pandemic.”
Excitedly, I asked my colleague to share Pro Bono HK’s details to Sister In. Within a week, I entered the building to hear the familiar squeak and hum of the vacuum greeting me. “Good morning, Sister In!” I exclaimed. “Jo Sun Miss! Watch the cord!” she yelled under her mask.
Unfairness and injustice have been heightened in Hong Kong due to the social and economic fallout from the pandemic. The legal assistance provided by NGOs like Pro Bono HK are desperately needed by marginalised essential workers like Sister In.