14 May 2014
ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND People Living In Honk Kong’s Caged City
Hong Kong is ranked among the world’s most expensive cities to live in. For those who can afford it, life is nothing short of glamorous. If you can’t, you’ll live the rest of your life like an animal inside a cold steel cage.
Hong Kong has a serious housing problem. Over 100,000 people live in ‘mesh boxes’ in the older districts of Sham Shui Po, To Kwa Wan and Kwun Tong. Too poor to live elsewhere, it’s either a cage home or the streets for them.
Cockroaches and lice are common. Most of the people in cages prefer to sleep on cardboard because of the bedbugs in mattresses. Ventilation is poor, residents often have bronchial conditions and mold growing in their lungs.
The majority of the residents are male. Some have lived in cages for 40 years while waiting for public housing. Most of them work minimal wage jobs; some are elderly with meager, dwindling savings.
>Living destitute in these dilapidated and cramped quarters leads to a higher incidence of mental illness and suicide.
The Hong Kong government has caged homes categorized as “bed space apartments” and they are legal housing. The average cost is about $150/month.
Tenants wear long sleeves when sleeping to lessen the bites of mites, mice and fleas. There is no cooking available in cage homes; takeout food is the only option. Needless to say, these aren’t health spas.
This is Mak’s home. Twenty tenants in Mak’s building share a bathroom that doubles as a shower. Hallways are covered with makeshift wiring. Beds are stacked up and referred to as coffin homes.