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In wealthy Hong Kong, poorest live in metal cages

February 7, 2013 • World News


In this Jan. 25, 2013 photo, 77-year-old Yeung Ying Biu sits inside his 1.5 square meter (16 square feet) cage, which he calls home, in Hong Kong. For many of the richest people in Hong Kong, one of Asia’s wealthiest cities, home is a mansion with an expansive view from the heights of Victoria Peak. For some of the poorest, home is a metal cage. Some 100,000 people in the former British colony live in what’s known as inadequate housing, according to the Society for Community Organization, a social welfare group. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

HONG KONG (AP) — For many of the richest people in Hong Kong, one of Asia’s wealthiest cities, home is a mansion with an expansive view from the heights of Victoria Peak. For some of the poorest, like Leung Cho-yin, home is a metal cage.

The 67-year-old former butcher pays 1,300 Hong Kong dollars ($167) a month for one of about a dozen wire mesh cages resembling rabbit hutches crammed into a dilapidated apartment in a gritty, working-class West Kowloon neighborhood.

The cages, stacked on top of each other, measure 1.5 square meters (16 square feet). To keep bedbugs away, Leung and his roommates put thin pads, bamboo mats, even old linoleum on their cages’ wooden planks instead of mattresses.

“I’ve been bitten so much I’m used to it,” said Leung, rolling up the sleeve of his oversized blue fleece jacket to reveal a red mark on his hand. “There’s nothing you can do about it. I’ve got to live here. I’ve got to survive,” he said as he let out a phlegmy cough.

Some 100,000 people in the former British colony live in what’s known as inadequate housing, according to the Society for Community Organization, a social welfare group. The category also includes apartments subdivided into tiny cubicles or filled with coffin-sized wood and metal sleeping compartments as well as rooftop shacks. They’re a grim counterpoint to the southern Chinese city’s renowned material affluence.

Forced by skyrocketing housing prices to live in cramped, dirty and unsafe conditions, their plight also Login to read more

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