It has led over 220,000 people to live in subdivided flats or bedspace apartments, also known as cage or coffin homes. The space is 4 X 4 X 6 ft, approximately the size of a parking space. Housing the poor, neglected, and disabled; some are working, and many are students who cannot afford a ¨ median-priced apartment¨.
The Hong Kong government legally recognizes the apartments as bedspace apartments. Construction began on these apartments in the 1950 and '60s as a housing solution for the growing population of Hong Kong.
At this time, there was an influx of immigrants from mainland China as it was under Mao Zedong's rule. As a result, the population of Hong Kong increased by 55% between 1951-1961.
Inside a bedspace apartment is a bed and sometimes a table; however, the cage homes only have room for a bed and a few belongings and look like a metal cage, each one stacked two to three beds high.
The coffin homes have often been described as windowless closets. Conditions in the cage homes have been described as barely humane, a step above a prison cell. The homes lack smoke detectors and fire alarm systems.
Many residents complain of bedbugs, insects, and bacteria, especially in the summer when temperatures can get above 85 degrees and poorly ventilated spaces. These cage homes also come with a heft price tag for what they are, some range up to 700 USD a month.
Those living in these flats share a bathroom and kitchen, sometimes more than 20 people, depending on the building. Most tenants state they have no choice, and many suffer from depression and anxiety.
In 2021 Hong Kong had a population of 7.4 million; however, in August of 2022, the population was not 7.2 million. According to reports, 75% of the land in Hong Kong is undeveloped, so the cost of housing and lack of housing is not due to land scarcity; many believe it is terrible land management and control.
Only 3.7% of Hong Kong is zoned for urban housing, and The People's republic of china owns all the land in Hong Kong except the land with St. Johns Cathedral.
No one owns anything, and they can only lease a building and then charge the occupants ridiculously high prices to make money off their investment. As a result, when a new building is up for lease, it often leads to a bidding war.
There is no real incentive to free up more land. However, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, has proposed a plan to turn the remote northern part of the city into a metropolis for 2.5 million people, but it could take years, maybe even decades, to create. In July, the director of Hong Kong and Macau Affairs, Xia Baolong, set a goal to eliminate the bedspace/small apartments (those less than 500 square feet) by 2049.
So will they decrease the rent of apartments in the north of the city, so students and the workers who are paid less can afford them?