Mainland cities could learn from HK plan for low-income housing
Hong Kong is well-known for its exorbitant housing prices and rents as well as cramped living spaces. With a severe shortage in the housing supply, high and ever-rising rents, low-income families in the city that do not own their own properties or enjoy public housing have no choice but to live in tiny subdivided apartments.
These apartments are usually created by dividing a larger one into several, each with its own kitchen (or just a place for stove) and toilet. Some subdivided apartments are even built inside old industrial buildings, which is illegal. However, the special administrative region’s government has been largely tolerant of this practice.
According to figures released by the Census and Statistics Department, in 2015 there were around 200,000 residents living in 88,800 subdivided apartments, which is an underestimated number as it does not include those living in industrial buildings. The average per capita living space enjoyed by residents of subdivided apartment is only 62.4 square feet, or 5.8 square meters. In some apartments, the space is so small that the kitchen and toilet are placed together. Residents in these subdivided apartments are not only subject to poor living conditions but also facing potential dangers such as poor hygiene and fire hazards. However, the rents for these tiny apartments are still not cheap, with a median monthly rent of HK$4,200, equaling 3,630 yuan ($538).
If all subdivided apartments are banned, low-income workers will have no place to live in cities, causing a shortage of labor and a rise in labor costs.