News / Economy

Hong Kong's Soaring Housing Prices Hit City's Poorest

Hong Kong's Soaring Housing Prices Hit City's Pooresti
X
Zlatica Hoke
July 19, 2014 7:01 PM
Rising housing prices in Hong Kong are squeezing out low-income residents and often force them into unsafe and illegal living arrangements. Many have built rickety dwellings on rooftops of highrise buildings or rent them from shady landlords. Residents of these slums have poor protection against extreme heat and inclement weather. Zlatica Hoke reports the city government is unable to meet the growing need for affordable public rental housing.
Zlatica Hoke

Rising housing prices in Hong Kong are squeezing out low-income residents, often forcing them into unsafe and illegal living arrangements.

Many have built rickety dwellings on the rooftops of highrise buildings or rent them from shady landlords. Residents of these slums have poor protection against extreme heat and inclement weather and the city government is unable to meet the growing need for affordable public rental housing.

"The rent is so high out there, how can we leave this place? It costs at least several hundred dollars. We cannot afford it," said Su Xingyun, a rooftop apartment dweller.

Her two daughters have to walk up and down 10 flights of stairs on their way to school and back home. They often do their homework in unbearable heat or under a leaky roof. They share a single bed, a small living room, and another shack outside, that serves as both a kitchen and a bathroom.

Unsafe conditions

There is little privacy on this roof where there are more shacks like this. Their family has lived here for four years, but now the government has served it with a removal notice.  

Su Xingyun moved here from mainland China to join her husband, who has lived on the rooftop for 20 years. She said she has applied for safer public housing every year.

"During typhoons I'm really afraid. I'm worried the roof will collapse because I can feel the walls shaking. It's not safe for a family," she said.

On a rooftop in the working-class Sham Shui Po neighborhood, some residents own their homes, others pay rent to a landlord.

"I will stay as long as they don’t demolish this place.  If they do, I will have to leave and I may have to sleep in the streets," said Quang Xuan, a Vietnamese refugee who has lived here for 10 years - for about $130 a month.

Luxury digs

There is a growing number of new luxury apartments in Hong Kong, some of them selling for more than $50 million.

As housing prices soar, the city is having difficulty finding room for its poorest.

Community worker Angela Lui said many people cannot afford even Hong Kong's cheapest accommodation.

"When you want to rent a subdivided unit in urban city, what you need is the deposit, the commission, the first month rent.  Altogether, it can be more than 10,000 HKD [$1,290]. It is a big number, a big amount of money that families under poverty [line] can't afford," she said.

There’s no exact record of the number of makeshift homes.

Authorities said they removed 400,000 unauthorized buildings - including rooftop huts - between 2001 and 2011, mostly for safety reasons. The pace of removals is outpacing the ability to place tenants in affordable homes.

Meanwhile, the waiting list for public housing is getting longer.  At the end of March this year there were almost 250,000 applications for public rental housing. The housing department said the average waiting period for general applications is three years.

You May Like

US States Where Women Work for Free

Women earn less than men in all 50 states More

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

At a recent even in Seoul, border communities promoted benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared stories of life since the war More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows Fight to Death Against IS

In wide-ranging interview, Fuad Masum describes new type of fight that will take time to win More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9205
JPY
USD
123.69
GBP
USD
0.6508
CAD
USD
1.2456
INR
USD
64.051

Rates may not be current.