Poor in cages show dark side of Hong Kong boom

For many of the richest people in Hong Kong, one of Asia’s wealthiest cities, home is a mansion with an expansive view from the heights of Victoria Peak. For some of the poorest, like Leung Cho-yin, home is a metal cage.

The 67-year-old former butcher pays 1,300 Hong Kong dollars ($167) a month for one of about a dozen wire mesh cages resembling rabbit hutches crammed into a dilapidated apartment in a gritty, working-class West Kowloon neighbourhood.

While cage homes, which sprang up in the 1950s to cater mostly to single men coming in from mainland China, are becoming rarer, other types of substandard housing such as cubicle apartments are growing as more families are pushed into poverty. Nearly 1.19 million people were living in poverty in the first half of last year, up from 1.15 million in 2011, according to the Hong Kong Council Of Social Services. There’s no official poverty line but it’s generally defined as half of the city’s median income of HK$12,000 ($1,550) a month.

Many poor residents have applied for public housing but face years of waiting. Nearly three-quarters of 500 low-income families questioned by Oxfam Hong Kong in a recent survey had been on the list for more than 4 years without being offered a flat. [Read More]

Photos : 62-year-old Cheng Man Wai lies in the 16 square foot cage that he calls home, 63-year-old Lee Tat-fong walks in a corridor while her two grandchildren — Amy, 9, and Steven, 13 — sit in their 50-square-foot room, 77-year-old Yeung Ying Biu eats next to his cage and Yeung Ying Biu sits inside his cage home on Jan. 25, 2013 in Hong Kong.

[Credit : Vincent Yu/AP]


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