Reminiscent of the dungeons of the Dark Ages, almost 88,000 ‘coffin homes’ in Hong Kong cram 200,000 people. Little wonder it has been termed ‘an insult to human dignity’ by the UN.
People accepts subhuman conditions in such living spaces not out of choice, but due to the scarcity of public housing and sky-rocketing rents.
One resident, who stays in a 15-square foot tiny space he calls home, says, “The most difficult thing about living here is not being able to breathe in fresh air. It’s suffocating.”
Hong Kong’s housing woes were exposed by the Society for Community Organization through an exhibition that displayed shocking and heart-rending photos of people staying in jam-packed tiny living spaces that are a width of a single bed mattress.
Such is their desperation that they have no choice but to place their chopping boards just a foot away from the toilet!
Imagine having to crouch down to take a shower, so as not to wet the kitchen stove and condiments! Even the chicken coops are bigger than where Hong Kong’s poor stay.
The residents have little choice but to accept their lot and exist in such living spaces that stack one on top of the other, like cupboards, and breathe air pumped in by a single metal air conditioning vent.
Day after day, the residents try to live and sleep in such suffocating and noisy environment, witnessing daily struggles for their turn at the bathroom.
The ‘coffin homes’ and partitioned apartments lie hidden behind Hong Kong’s glittering façade that conceals this bitter truth.
The residents yearn for living in public housing, but with a four-year wait, this remains a mere pipe dream. With ever-increasing rents in the private sector, this is all they can afford.
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