More often than not, small apartments are glamorized in western media, from custom-built, wood-covered residences to those crazy "transformer" spaces where everything is hidden away till you need it. But in other parts of the world, living in cramped quarters is not a lifestyle choice but a reluctant compromise imposed by factors like politics, poor urban planning and runaway real estate speculation.
Hong Kong is an apt example of this: according to Atlantic Cities, as one of the most densely populated places in the world (7 million souls on 423 square miles), it has rents a whopping 35 percent higher than New York City. Almost half of Hong Kong's population lives in some kind of public housing, yet there's a critical lack of it, and coupled with the deplorable conditions of some government-subsidized dwellings in a city where home prices are approaching $1,300 per square foot -- means that affordable housing is a major flashpoint issue here.
The local human rights organization Society for Community Organization (SOCO) recently released a photographic report on the derelict conditions of sub-divided apartment units averaging 40 square feet and even metal "dog cages," in which an estimated 100,000 of the city’s laborers live. These spaces are so small that they can only be shot from above.
SOCO's report focuses on "inadequate housing" and points to the growing 320,000-person-long waiting list for public housing, meaning that families often must live years in these "cubicles" before being moved to appropriate housing:
The number is increasing due to the decrease of allocated units every year, decrease of newly built flats every year and increasing number of working poor and needy.
Yes, this is mind-bogglingly the same place where designer tiny apartments, expensive shark's fin soup and McDonald's weddings all co-exist, and where it seems that the situation will most probably worsen before it will improve. More over at Atlantic Cities, National Post and SOCO.