Thursday, July 25, 2013

Caged Homes

Some people in Hong Kong say that you can never go wrong with purchasing property. Due to the lack of space in Hong Kong and the ever growing population, eventually, the value of the property will rise.

Hong Kong's richest have made their fortunes from property. With the continual migration of mainlanders coming to Hong Kong each year and the return of many overseas Chinese, Hong Kong has become increasingly over-populated; and land and property will continue to play a dominating role in the Hong Kong economy. Since Hong Kong's tax system is a low income and capital tax rate system, the Hong Kong government's main stream of revenue is selling its most precious commodity, land. The government therefore must make a killing on all their land sales and as a result, only the largest property developers with the deepest pockets will have the resources to purchase land. The land, once developed into residential, office, or retail buildings, are then sold to the market at even higher premiums.

Like many capitalistic societies, the wealth gap between the rich and poor is omnipresent. It is especially prevalent in Hong Kong where only money can buy space. Many middle class families cannot afford a home in Hong Kong, so you can imagine the plight of the poor. Hong Kong has subsidized public housing for the poor, but the queue for them are long; and for those that are still waiting, many have settled living in a caged home.

A caged home is a metal cage the size of a single bed where people sleep in and keep their few belongings in. At night, they would lock themselves in these cages to prevent theft. Caged homes are located at Hong Kong's most impoverished neighborhoods and are often rented to the elderly at sums of around HK$1,500/month. (not a small amount for the amount of space you are actually occupying). There will be several caged homes in a room and the space in the room are shared by all the occupants.

When one enters one of these premises, it is difficult not to be overwhelmed by the depressing notion that these people are living waiting to die, similar to animals in a wet market waiting their turn to be slaughtered and sold.

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