How do people live in Hong Kong

Housing shortage: tens of thousands live in cages in Hong Kong

From his small window, Wong Lee looks out over a new glass building full of luxury apartments. If he sticks his head out of the cage, he can see the rich man's house relatively well.

He is one of the "cage people" of Hong Kong. Because of the high rents in the Asian economic metropolis, he can only rent a small cell within an apartment.

A yellow grid surrounds the two square meters of the mattress and is reminiscent of a dog kennel. He stuffed everything he owns into this cage. At the bottom he stacks his things. Shoes stand on a cardboard box. The 47-year-old can neither sit up nor lie stretched out.

Still, it's not that bad for him anymore. β€œIt's better than having to live on the street,” he says. His gaze wanders across the room. Three times three cages are stacked on about ten square meters. An old refrigerator hums in the corner.

The only luxury in the cage is wireless internet

The residents have hung their hand-washed laundry on the bars. A clock is ticking in the corner. 21 people share three narrow bathrooms. There is no kitchen. Wireless internet does. β€œI'm only here about ten hours a day,” says the 47-year-old, smiling as he hunched over in his cage.

The housing situation in the Chinese Special Administrative Region is catastrophic. The gap between rich and poor is similarly extreme in the former British crown colony, which has belonged to China again since 1997 and has been governed autonomously since then.

Social injustice and housing problems are part of the social explosive that also drives the democracy movement, which until the beginning of December kept the city in suspense for weeks with road blockades and demands more participation and democracy, which Beijing denies the Hong Kongers.

Skyscrapers and luxury versus poverty and cage housing

The housing shortage is in stark contrast to the wealth, the expensive skyscrapers and the streets lined with luxury shops of the global financial center. The seven million metropolis is one of the most densely populated cities on earth. Rents are extremely high, and people like Lee wait between five and ten years for social housing.