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Home - by - February 8, 2013 - 11:15 America/New_York - 11 Comments

MyFoxNY

Hong Kong poor in cages shows dark side of property boom 

KONG (AP) — 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 neighborhood.

The cages, stacked on top of each other, measure 1.5 square meters (16 square feet). To keep bedbugs away, Leung and his roommates put thin pads, bamboo mats, even old linoleum on their cages’ wooden planks instead of mattresses.

“I’ve been bitten so much I’m used to it,” said Leung, rolling up the sleeve of his oversized blue fleece jacket to reveal a red mark on his hand. “There’s nothing you can do about it. I’ve got to live here. I’ve got to survive,” he said as he let out a phlegmy cough.

Some 100,000 people in the former British colony live in what’s known as inadequate housing, according to the Society for Community Organization, a social welfare group. The category also includes apartments subdivided into tiny cubicles or filled with coffin-sized wood and metal sleeping compartments as well as rooftop shacks. They’re a grim counterpoint to the southern Chinese city’s renowned material affluence.

Forced by skyrocketing housing prices to live in cramped, dirty and unsafe conditions, their plight also highlights one of the biggest headaches facing Hong Kong’s unpopular Beijing-backed leader: growing public rage over the city’s housing crisis.

Leung Chun-ying took office as Hong Kong’s chief executive in July pledging to provide more affordable housing in a bid to cool the anger. Home prices rose 23 percent in the first 10 months of 2012 and have doubled since bottoming out in 2008 during the global financial crisis, the International Monetary Fund said in a report last month. Rents have followed a similar trajectory.

The soaring costs are putting decent homes out of reach of a large portion of the population while stoking resentment of the government, which controls all land for development, and a coterie of wealthy property developers. Housing costs have been fuelled by easy credit thanks to ultralow interest rates that policymakers can’t raise because the currency is pegged to the dollar. Money flooding in from mainland Chinese and foreign investors looking for higher returns has exacerbated the rise.

Read morehttp://www.myfoxny.com/story/21021301/hong-kong-poor-in-cages-shows-dark-side-of-property-boom#ixzz2KHt9LqvI

» 11 Comments

  1. BILL

    February 8th, 2013

    when i was just starting out, i would have given my right leg for a cage to call home every night.

    we couldn’t even afford a cardboard box at night, we all slept in upside down garbage cans.

    seriously though, i read once, along time ago, that many people in china were still living in caves.

    sometimes it seems the more things change the more they stay the same.

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  2. thirdtwin

    February 8th, 2013

    “…what if we could just be China for a day? I mean, just, just, just one day. You know, I mean, where we could actually, you know, authorize the right solutions, and I do think there is a sense of that, on, on everything from the economy to environment…”

    Thomas Friedman, paging Thomas Friedman…your cage is ready.

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  3. Maudie N Mandeville

    February 8th, 2013

    We call them government housing, ghettos, or slums. Liberal politicians, especially black racial pimps, call them ‘temporary housing’.

    Hong Kongers just aren’t appreciative of their politicians like servile blacks in this country who have generational ‘dibs’ on their crumbling crime infested apartments they’ve called home for 60 years.

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  4. reddecaesari

    February 8th, 2013

    no value towards human life/dignity.

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  5. Geoff C. The Saltine

    February 8th, 2013

    In 1996 when we were in Hong Kong we saw a homeless man on the streets who was without a doubt the most pitiful looking person I have ever run across, he was wearing a dark green blanket with a cutout for his head that came only to his waist and nothing else. It looked like he had never taken a bath in his life. What was so striking about it was he was living in the richest city in the world and no one was there to help. He was not the only one we came across. Our homeless have so much more, if they want help its there.

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  6. Maksim

    February 8th, 2013

    Those who are certain that the future belongs to China fail to take into account their massive social problems and the threat it poses. Nothing about China’s future is certain.

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  7. Carlos The Jackal

    February 8th, 2013

    “You wanta flied lice wiss bedbug? You pay more!”

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  8. Meshuggahboy

    February 8th, 2013

    “the government, which controls all land” – no surprise this is the result, is it?

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  9. Stranded in Sonoma

    February 8th, 2013

    I understand what @Geoff C. said about 1996 but there are always the destitute in every country. The question is, has it gotten worse since 1997?

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  10. thirdtwin

    February 8th, 2013

    Geoff C., I was in many areas of China in 1998 with my wife, who is mainland Chinese. We went to some pretty gritty places, including the concrete highrise tenement where she grew up. I saw all manner of filth, degradation and pathetic hovels. but I never saw any cage housing.

    In Tiananmen Square, there was a huge digital clock counting down the time until Hong Kong became property of the PRC. We decided to visit Hong Kong before the turnover, and we stayed with a friend from Kowloon who took us all around there. I saw some slummy areas, but I never saw any cage houses.

    The Commies have a big problem keeping rurals in the hinterlands and out of the big cities. When they got Hong Kong, they got more than they bargained for in the way of migration, and these cage houses are a sadly predictable outcome of the marriage of capitalism to brittle, calcified communism.

    Maybe Bloomberg can school them in the ways of rent-control.

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  11. Geoff C. The Saltine

    February 8th, 2013

    Stranded and thirdwin. We spent two weeks in China in 1996 picking up our daughter. I don’t have time now for a long post, but most of what we saw was a hard working people doing anything to earn money. Poor yes lazy no. We saw one man sweeping a dirt road just to sweep? I do think that what is going on is like here the middle class is getting swept away. When you are in China there are so many people its hard to understand here what they are dealing with. If a topic like this comes up again it would be a great time to expand on. Gota go.

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