Main­land cities could learn from HK plan for low-in­come hous­ing

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - VIEWS -

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.

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