It's hard to imagine that living on the street could be better than living in a residential building. But for those who live in the kind of tiny, cramped spaces known as 'cage homes', it's true.
Hong Kong is a prosperous city with a strong economy. You would think the quality of life for its citizens would be quite high. In fact, the quality of life for the growing number of poor people is getting worse.
People who live in cage homes are usually waiting for public housing to be available. But there is not enough housing to meet the needs of all the grass-roots families.
The government should increase the amount of public housing; encourage landlords to reduce rents; and give subsidies to those who are too poor to afford even cheap housing.
To maintain the harmony of society, the government must help the needy.
From the Editor
Thank you for your letter, Tommy. Hong Kong is a very wealthy city. The report on Hong Kong's cage homes by Osaka City University researcher Geerhardt Kornatowski (Young Post, May 5) was shocking, to say the least. In it he quoted an Indian expert who said cage homes here were worse than the slums in India. That is hard to believe.
But this is our city, and these are our people. When the government has so much money it can give back some of the taxes paid by citizens, and yet some people live in these conditions, something is very wrong.
Hong Kong prides itself on being a free market. The landlords of cage homes would not charge so much if they could not fill them. Yet they do, and the cages are filled. If the government creates rules about rent, it will be interfering with the principle of free markets.
We should be careful about immediately believing that these people are unable to get public housing. Some of them can, but they do not wish to live so far away from their places of work.
One possible solution would be more government housing and better subsidised transport, so that people can afford to travel from their homes to their jobs.