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The Cruel Reality of Hong Kong’s ‘Coffin Cubicles’

By: William Wang



(Photo by: Hong Kong Free Press)



The Hong Kong housing crisis has been running rampant for years, and the government has been struggling to mitigate the effects of it. Lots of Hong Kong’s land is underused and not optimized for urban housing. The legislative branch is also very inefficient in granting permission for extra land to be renovated. Less than 10 percent of Hong Kong’s land is utilized for urban housing and paired with Hong Kong’s high population density and already small area, this creates a very high price for housing.


As a result, people have to deal with atrocious living conditions for colossal rent prices. The rent price far from the center can reach a maximum of 15,000 HKD per month, exemplified to 20,000-30,000 HKD if you want to live closer to the center. The median average wage was 18,400 in May 2020, and considering transportation, food, water, electricity, and entertainment costs, it can be very difficult to make ends meet for the middle-class Hong Kong citizen.


In an effort to try and fix the housing crisis, the government has made houses in Hong Kong smaller and smaller, in some cases not even exceeding 20sq ft in area. Some landlords even illegally divide a 400sq ft flat into 20 living areas in order to accommodate citizens for a price of 2,000 HKD monthly. These ‘coffin cubicles’ are not even big enough to stand up in, and the residents have to resort to cooking and sleeping in a single room. These people don’t even have the luxury of a private bathroom.


You may make the false assumption that it is only the most desperate of people that have to live in these coffins, but the problem also lies with the availability of homes. The waiting time for public housing has reached an all-time high at 5.7 years early this year, and many citizens may resort to settling for a coffin cubicle.


The truly astonishing thing is, anyone could be living in these coffins, and no one would know. It could be your waitress, your barber, or your security guards. This is why we need to spread awareness about the cruelty caused by this housing crisis. You can help our citizens lead better lives by sharing this blog and supporting our organization.





Works Cited


Alexander, Lynsey. “Understanding Hong Kong's Housing Crisis.” The Borgen Project, Lynsey Alexander Https://Borgenproject.org/Wp-Content/Uploads/The_Borgen_Project_Logo_small.Jpg, 6 Feb. 2020, https://borgenproject.org/hong-kongs-housing-crisis/.


Global, Caixin. “What's Stopping Hong Kong from Fixing Its Housing Crisis?” ThinkChina, Singapore Press Holdings, 9 July 2021, https://www.thinkchina.sg/whats-stopping-hong-kong-fixing-its-housing-crisis.

Lam, Benny. “Boxed in: Life inside THE 'Coffin CUBICLES' of Hong Kong – in Pictures.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 7 June 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/cities/gallery/2017/jun/07/boxed-life-inside-hong-kong-coffin-cubicles-cage-homes-in-pictures.


“Median Monthly Income in Hong KONG Rises to $18,400.” Hong Kong Business, Apr. 2021, https://hongkongbusiness.hk/hr-education/news/median-monthly-income-in-hong-kong-rises-18400#:~:text=The%20median%20monthly%20wage%20of,the%20same%20period%20in%202019.


Stacke, Sarah. “See Benny LAM'S ‘Trapped’ Photos From Hong Kong.” Photography, National Geographic, 3 May 2021, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/photography/article/hong-kong-living-trapped-lam-photos.


The Standard. “Average Waiting Time for Hong Kong Public Housing Rises to 5.7 Years.”The Standard, 9 Feb. 2021, https://www.thestandard.com.hk/breaking-news/section/4/165263/Average-waiting-time-for-Hong-Kong-public-housing-rises-to-5.7-years.


Yip, Paul. “Too Little, Too Late and the Wrong Measures for Hk.” ThinkChina, Singapore Press Holdings, 22 Oct. 2019, https://www.thinkchina.sg/too-little-too-late-and-wrong-measures-hk.


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