Hong Kong has a problem. With its population growing steadily, it doesn’t have enough space to house the 7.2 million people in its 31 square miles.
But where the government sees a major issue, realtors see dollars. Because of demand, they can charge high rents for tiny spaces, charging up to HK$90, or $US11.60 USD, per square foot.
And the spaces are getting smaller. People are living in apartments stacked with wooden boxes, known as “coffin houses,” and sleeping in cages about the size of rabbit hutches.
The photos of these spaces are extreme and expose the harsh realities of a city with the highest levels of inequality in the developed world.
(Captions by Reuters and Christian Storm)
Because of China's massive population, there is a shortage of housing. Because of demand, realtors can charge astronomical prices for minuscule spaces, like the 80-square-foot apartment of Michelle Wong, a single mother, which she rents for $387.
Li Rong, 37, sits on a bed in her 35-square-foot subdivided apartment, with just enough room for a bunk bed and small TV, on the fifth floor of an old industrial building in Hong Kong. Li and people like her live in some of the priciest real estate per square foot in the world.
Most of these apartments are subdivided, meaning one unit intended for single occupants has been instead divided into multiple living spaces and rented individually.
Ng, 60, leaves a communal toilet near his 60-square-feet subdivided apartment inside an industrial building in Hong Kong. Ng pays a monthly rent of HK$1,250 ($161) for the flat. Subdividing flats is often illegal and can lead to safety and sanitary concerns if not handled correctly.
People can be forced into 'cubicle' apartments, like the 24-square-feet unit Wong Chun-sing, 91, poses inside below. The Hong Kong government estimates that about 100,000 people live in similar units, which cost an average monthly rental rate of $150.
Because of an extreme shortage of other affordable housing, these folks are forced to make due with the tiny space they have.
But it gets worse. To maximise income from the rent in central Hong Kong, landlords build 'coffin homes,' nicknamed because of their resemblance to real coffins. Twenty-four people live here, packed in a single apartment of little over 500 square feet.
The lowest standard of living is the caged beds, which are stacked on top of each other. Each costs $150 a month to rent.
The cages are usually about 6 feet by 2.5 feet. Advocacy group Society for Community Organisation says that tens of thousands of Chinese workers live like this.
As more and more workers flock to Hong Kong for its promise of jobs, the demand for apartments will only increase.
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