Shrinking Spaces, Rising Costs: Hong Kong Residents Feel the Crunch

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The average area per capita dropped 29.3% from 2013 to 47.8 square feet in 2015 – not much bigger than a king-size bed.

Isabella Steger reports: For some of Hong Kong’s poorest residents, the tiny subdivided apartments they call home are shrinking– and becoming less affordable.

With the city’s real estate among the most expensive in the world, many low-income Hong Kong residents — sometimes entire families — have been forced to live in so-called subdivided units. These apartments have been modified by landlords to fit multiple tenants and aren’t strictly illegal, but are subject to different structural and fire-safety requirements.

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According to a study jointly conducted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Institute of Future Cities and a concern group for people living in subdivided units, tenants of subdivided units now pay on average around 41% of their income towards rent, compared to 29% two years ago. The average rent is about HK$3,924 (US$506) a month, the study said.

A general view of old residential flats, which contain subdivided units, at Sham Shui Po, one of the oldest districts in Hong Kong February 4, 2013. Reuters

Rents in more central areas of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon far exceed those of the New Territories, where many poor families are forced to live despite long and expensive commutes.

[Read the full story here, at China Real Time Report – WSJ]

According to the study, a 90-square-foot subdivided unit in the downtown Tsim Sha Tsui district could command HK$5,500 (US$710) a month, which works out to be about HK$61(US$7.87) a square foot a month. In a 2011 Wall Street Journal story, a family of four paid HK$4,000 (US$516) a month to live in a 150-square-foot subdivided unit in the low-income district of Sham Shui Po in Kowloon. The unit housed a stove, desk, fridge and bunk bed.

Michelle Wong, a single mother, plays with her two-year-old daughter in the bedroom of an 80 square-foot (8 square meter) sub-divided flat, which she rents for HK$3,000 ($387) per month at Sham Shui Po, February 4, 2013. Reuters

Spaces are also getting tinier in subdivided units, according to the study. The average area per capita dropped 29.3% from 2013 to 47.8 square feet in 2015 – not much bigger than a king-size bed. Read the rest of this entry »


Hong Kong Standoff Over ‘Patriotism’ Lessons Heats Up

A government standoff with students and parents determined to resist Hong Kong’s new lessons in patriotism deepened last night, as thousands of protesters gathered outside the city’s legislative complex demanding the city’s chief executive back down.

Despite calls by protesters, city leader Leung Chun-ying did not make an appearance, and government officials reiterated that the city would continue to move forward with its plans to enact “moral and national education,” which aims to foster a greater sense of patriotism among local residents. Locals worry that the plan–introduced in 2010 by previous leader Donald Tsang–will amount to a form of “brainwashing.” Government-funded education materials praising the Communist Party, distributed among schools earlier this year, have further stoked fears that the initiative will promote only a positive view of China’s one-party state.

One of the city’s 10 hunger strike protesters is taken to a hospital on the first day of the new school term in Hong Kong on Monday.

The thousands of protestors were also assembling to support 10 hunger strikers—which included both students and retirees—who’ve been camped outside the government offices refusing food since Saturday, when up to 40,000 demonstrators rallied in the rain to resist the government’s plan. Though several have dropped out since yesterday afternoon, the rest have vowed to continue their hunger strike indefinitely outside the government offices, backed by dozens of other protesters who have also pitched tents and have been camping there to support them.

“The government ignores our feeling, so I use my body against my government,” hunger striker Ken Chan, 23, a student at City University, told the Wall Street Journal.

While the government has said it wants to listen to protesters’ views, it has refused to abandon plans for national education curriculum, despite anger over the initiative that’s roiled the city for months. Police said last night that 6,500 protesters gathered outside government offices, while organizers put the figure closer to 8,000. In July, another 90,000 residents, including stroller-pushing parents and children, also took the streets to protest the plan…

More >> via  China Real Time Report