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Foreign currency reserves up

Hong Kong's foreign currency reserve assets rose to US$423.2 billion in November from October's US$417.2 billion, the Monetary Authority announced today.   The reserve assets represent over five times the currency in circulation or about 42% of Hong Kong dollar M3.   There were no unsettled foreign exchange contracts at the end of November. http://dlvr.it/Sf21yd

New life for old school

Founded in 1949, Lok Sin Tong Primary School stands out in the Kowloon City neighbourhood with its striking historic features.   Once the last batch of students had left in 2019, charity group The Lok Sin Tong Benevolent Society, Kowloon (LST) set about transforming the old school campus into transitional housing with affordable rent to help relieve the financial burden for low-income families who have been waiting for public rental housing.   The flats range in size from 260 to 420 sq ft, for households of two to three people or four to five people.   Campus revamp To convert the school into living spaces equipped with private bathrooms and kitchenettes while still preserving the school’s original characteristics, special attention had to be paid to the plumbing and lighting design.   Water pumps were installed at the covered playground, while the basketball court was retained for the tenants’ use. Next to the basketball court, a Tongzhi period door plaque with a history of more than a century still hangs as a reminder of the campus’ history.   “The biggest challenge was converting the campus as it was not a standard one like other schools. The designer and architect had to revamp every single room,” explained The Lok Sin Tong Benevolent Society, Kowloon Chief Executive Alice Lau.   She said the school had a total of 26 rooms, most of which had good ventilation and natural light thanks to the many windows. But not all the areas could be utilised for housing.   “So we turned them into shared spaces for residents, such as a laundry room, library and games room,” Ms Lau added.   Blossoming community The more than 50 families that moved in gradually formed a small, close-knit community.   “The neighbourhood here is nice and other children in the community come to visit our home. We used to live in a tiny flat in Mong Kok and my child was unhappy with the lack of space and did not want to stay at home.   “We moved into our new flat last December. The environment is good and my kid is now happy as there is a basketball court for him to play in,” said LST housing tenant Ms Shek.   Her neighbour, mother-of-two Ms Huang, also welcomed the improved living conditions for her family.   “It is amazing, I cannot describe it. We used to live in such a small place that we had no room for a table and could not have meals together. Here we have more space.”   To be eligible for a transitional housing unit, applicants should be living in inadequate housing conditions or be in urgent need of community support and have been in the queue for public rental housing for no less than three years.   Successful applicants will be offered a minimum lease term of two years.   Following the overwhelming response to its Kowloon City project, the LST has launched another one at the junction of Sung Wong Toi Road and To Kwa Wan Road, offering 110 units.
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