Modu Magazine: A Tale of Urban China

Persistent Shortage of Social Housing in Hong Kong

At the end of 2012, the Hong Kong NGO Society for Community Organizations (SoCO) launched a “choc” photo campaign to raise public awareness about the deplorable living conditions of Hong Kong’s poor.

Hong Kong’s per square meter property is the most expensive in the world. According to the BBC, it rose to 10,800 euros in April 2013 (on average). As a result, public housing issues in Hong Kong are especially fraught. Many of these issues can be traced back to 1953, when a devastating fire resulted in more than 50,000 homeless. Attempting to address the problem, the state began to build social housing downtown (Kowloon), and soon over the entire Hong Kong area (Hong Kong Island and the New Territories). Today, new projects are primarily centered upon the New Territories, which are witnessing the rapid urbanization of areas to the north of the city center.

More than 30% of the population benefits from social housing projects managed and funded by the Public Housing Authority. The organization’s principal work is to provide public housing between 9.71 m² and 68 m² in area for rent, for an average of 140 euros/month (see the statistics). The government also offers lower priced apartments to eligible applicants. These programs are, however, subject to very strict eligibility conditions and meant to favor people with low-wages, families with elderly members, and senior citizens.

Despite the considerable amount of public housing in Hong Kong today and its critical importance, current social housing efforts are far from sufficient. According to official figures in 2012, the demand is so high that the average wait time to have one’s file considered is 2.6 years. Meanwhile, applicants without any other options may be forced to live in bed-sized cages, or in rooms of 5 to 10 square meters that often house entire families (see SoCO’s photo campaign relayed by

  • 2013/05/22

  • Hong Kong

  • Angèle Cauchois


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Persistent Shortage of Social Housing in Hong Kong 22.277279, 114.194641 PERSISTENT SHORTAGE OF SOCIAL HOUSING IN HONG KONGTags: Real Estate and Housing, Social Issues