Living out their old age with dignity is a far-fetched idea for staircase dwellers Chan Yan-shing, 71, and his wife Wu Sau-ching, 63. For the past 20 years, they have occupied two landings on a staircase in a Shamshuipo building. They live among the rubbish brushed down by tenants on the upper floors, cockroaches and rats, and have to wash themselves quietly after midnight to avoid complaints from the neighbours about spilt water. A pot of porridge is their food for the whole day. 'We have some of it whenever we feel hungry,' said Mr Chan, who used to earn $3,000 a month for a 12-hour day cleaning dishes. The Chans, who are waiting for compassionate rehousing, did not apply for public assistance until Mr Chan lost his job recently due to deteriorating health. Mr Chan said receiving public money was 'disgraceful' but he added that they were not greedy. 'We can't afford to pay for other housing,' he said. 'This is the only place where we can stay. We have been good and quiet so as not to offend the other tenants and risk losing this place.' But the couple's living conditions have cost them their relationship with their son, a policeman. 'He rarely comes to see us because he feels ashamed of this place,' Ms Wu said. 'We don't know where he lives but we understand how he feels. We would not let our situation affect his future.'