In Hong Kong, one of the most densely populated area of the world, and definitely the most expensive city in terms of housing, economic inequality is dramatically expressed in the form of housing. The cost of housing is constantly growing, reaching paradoxical numbers, putting decent homes out of reach of a large portion of the population benefiting investors and their out of control speculations.
More than 200,000 people live in inadequate housing, including: cage homes, cubicle apartments and roof-top flats. Amongst them are single elderly people, low-income families, new immigrants, poor children and people suffering from mental and physical disabilities. They pay up to 350 usd for sub-standard cagehome, cocklofts and cubicles as little as 15 square foot, 1.4 square meters. These figures do not include up to 10,000 living illegally in industrial buildings, and over 12,000 homeless, according to SoCo, an NGO working since 1971 on the housing issue.
About a third of Hong Kong’s 7.1 million population lives in public rental flats. When apartments bought with government subsidies are included, the figure rises to nearly half. Over 200,000 people are on the waiting list for public housing, with an average four-year wait, and now living in some 88,000 subdivided units, according to the Census and Statistics Department. “Each of them represents a server in the restaurant, the bus driver who takes us to work, or the security guard who welcomes us home after a long day’s work,” SoCO’s director Ho Hei-wah said.
Anger over housing prices is a common theme in increasingly frequent anti-government protests.