Businessman Markus Shaw had an eye-opening experience visiting 'cage homes' in Hong Kong. The grand-nephew of media mogul Sir Run Run Shaw visited tenement buildings to speak with underprivileged people last week. He was making the visit as part of a group that aims to bridge the gap between professionals and the grass roots. 'In our advanced society, there're still people living like that,' Mr Shaw said after visiting cage homes at Tai Kok Tsui and partition homes in Sham Shui Po. Tenants of the homes live in tiny spaces separated by wire fencing or boards. Mr Shaw spoke to Tai Lun-po, an elderly man sleeping in his cage home. Mr Tai could not hear anything unless the speaker shouted into his ears. One recent immigrant, Mrs Lee, also welcomed Mr Shaw into her home. It contained a single bed that she and her daughter shared. 'I am especially sorry to see families in that condition,' Mr Shaw said. 'And elderly too.' Some of the low-income groups living in such housing have been hit hard by the financial meltdown, said Sze Lai-shan of the Society for Community Organisation. Many security guards and cleaning workers had taken 10 per cent pay cuts. Mr Shaw, co-founder of the urban planning concern group Designing Hong Kong, was reminded of the importance of narrow streets and friendly neighbours in keeping a district alive. Despite living in terrible conditions, cage home residents remained positive and had strong neighbourhood links, he said. Mr Shaw was the first participant of the Community Visit by Commercial Sector programme to visit cage homes. It started in October as more professionals want to serve in community organisations and think-tanks, said organiser Jeff Au Tsan-nien. It was co-hosted by the Society for Community Organisation, the Hong Kong Democratic Foundation and the Community and Social Development Initiative.