This is not meant to be a laughing matter whatsoever, and I hate to bring down the levity of the CDotD posts, but upon learning about cage homes in Hong Kong, I was so mortified I had to learn more and share what I found.
The annual Hong Kong Art Walk recently came and went, and while I still have yet to participate in this high brow pub crawl, as it’s come to be known, I came to learn more about the cause this charity event serves — The Society for Community Organization (or “SoCO”). One of SoCO’s causes is the Cage Homes and Private Housing Residents Project, which seeks to assist the more than 100,000 cage home (and other similarly sub-par housing) residents, and get them into proper housing.
That’s right — cage homes. A significant population in Hong Kong live in 15 square foot cubicles, typically with 8 cramming into one such cage — sometimes even more! From the articles I read, bathroom situations for such “homes” are dingy unsanitary situations, shared by too many and the kitchen situation is also fairly sketchy.
These subpar “homes” were devised in the 1940s to deal with a wave of desperate Chinese refugees fleeing civil war on the mainland. Indeed, my own family came to Hong Kong from China in the 1950s (not long after the Japanese occupation of WWII, which I only learned about when visiting the HK History Museum!). They did not live in a cage home, by any means, but there were a family of 5 (not sure what other extended family members joined them on top of this) who lived in a very tiny 1-BR apartment in Kowloon somewhere. My granny told me how they had to pack up their beds by day, and were really crammed into a tiny space. This was and remains uncommon today.
The extreme cost of housing in Hong Kong is no secret to anyone, though these cage homes are news to me. Worse, with some cage rents beins as high as HK$1,500 a month (almost US$ 200!), the cost per square foot of these nasty spaces far exceed those of some mansions in Hong Kong’s exclusive Peak district where many local tycoons reside.
The best demonstration of this horrific housing condition is best done in photos than words, so I invite you to check out the exhibit SoCO displayed in the 2009 ArtWalk, and if you are inclined, please make a much needed donation to help lift the more than 100,000 HK residents who reside in spaces below 60 square feet!