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

Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes 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.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8954
JPY
USD
119.75
GBP
USD
0.6515
CAD
USD
1.2518
INR
USD
61.921

Rates may not be current.