Hong Kong Bets on Transitional Housing to Solve the Accommodation Shortage
Hong Kong has been facing a housing crisis for years. Due to a lack of building land, real estate prices have increased by 430% since 2003, making the Special Administrative Region the most expensive urban center in the world. Moreover, the Housing Department has stated that the average waiting time for public housing has climbed to 5.5 years—the highest since 1997. In order to relieve pressure on housing demand, at least in the short term, the government is already providing 1,600 units of “transitional housing”. South China Morning Post reported that the Transport and Housing Bureau has received a proposal from Yan Chai Hospital to build 110 to 130 “pipe homes”—micro-apartments inside giant drainage pipes—in Tsuen Wan.
With each home accommodating up to four people, the box-shaped units can provide shelter for approximately 250 to 350 people. The target groups will be low-income individuals and families who have been waiting for public housing for more than three years. The concept of pipe homes originated in Europe, in cities like Amsterdam or London. In Hong Kong, the shortage of space means pipe homes can only be installed under flyovers, in vacant car parks or industrial areas. Apart from potential light, air and noise pollution problems, community facilities will doubtless be insufficient in such locations.