Lucky House, Hong Kong’s Coffin Homes

Lucky House, Hong Kong’s Coffin Homes.

Hong Kong is brimming with neon-lit shopping strips that sell luxury brands, jewels, and technology to eager consumers; the skyscraper-filled skyline contains businesses that make the city one of the world’s major financial hubs. Yet behind the glamorous facade, approximately 200,000 people, including 40,000 children, live in spaces ranging in size from around 15 – 100 square feet. With a population of nearly 7.5 million and almost no developable land remaining, Hong Kong’s housing market has risen to the most expensive in the world. Pushed out by soaring rents, tens of thousands of people have no other option than to inhabit squatter huts, sub-divided units where the kitchen and toilet merge, coffin cubicles, and cage homes, which are rooms measuring as small as 6’ x 2.5’ traditionally made of wire mesh. “From cooking to sleeping, all activities take place in these tiny spaces,” says Lam. To create the coffin cubicles a 400 square flat will be illegally divided by its owner to accommodate 20 double-decker beds, each costing about HK$2000 (over $250 USD) per month in rent. The space is too small to stand up in. These are the suffocating dwellings that exist where the lights of Hong Kong’s prosperity don’t reach. “You may wonder why we should care, as these people are not a part of our lives,” Benny Lam writes on his Facebook page. “They are exactly the people who come into your life every single day: they are serving you as the waiters in the restaurants where you eat, they are the security guards in the shopping malls you wander around, or the cleaners and the delivery men on the streets you pass through. The only difference between us and them is their homes. This is a question of human dignity.” Credit: Sarah Stacke for National geographic

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