Hong Kong is generally known the world over for its material comforts and affluent lifestyle. But there’s a dark it as well that not many are aware of. Parallel to the wealthy citizens of Hong Kong there exists a community that is unable to cope with skyrocketing housing prices. These people are quite literally forced to live in tiny metal cages.
What’s worse is that the cages don’t come for free either. Stacked on top of each other, the 1.5 sq m enclosuress can be rented at a price of 1,300 Hong Kong dollars (about US $167) per month. These cages are crammed into a single dilapidated apartment in a working-class neighborhood in West Kowloon. Believe it or not, these metal living quarters are home to a whopping 100,000 people, according to statistics provided by a social welfare group called the Society for Community Organization. Other types of inadequate housing include apartments subdivided into tiny cubicles or filled with coffin-sized wood and metal sleeping compartments as well as rooftop shacks. Only two toilet stalls are available in each apartment and have to be shared by hundreds of single, elderly men, who make up the majority of the cage-occupants. No kitchen as such is provided; there’s only a small room with a sink. Almost all the men wash their clothes in a bucket. Instead of using mattresses, the men use thin pads, bamboo mats or old linoleum in their cages to keep the bedbugs away.