Sleeping on the street is bad, but Hong Kong's cage homes are even worse, an urban geographer says. Osaka City University researcher Geerhardt Kornatowski has studied homelessness in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea for a decade. 'I was really shocked and surprised when I first went to cage houses and cubicles in Hong Kong. It was astonishing,' he said. Kornatowski, who has visited the city more than 10 times in the past six years, told of the reaction of an Indian expert in urban development when he took her to a cage home. 'She said it was the first time that she had ever witnessed a living environment worse than an Indian slum. I cannot agree more - living on the streets is better than in cage houses,' he said. 'It is unbearable. There is no privacy at all, and everyone has to pack together in a tiny place with poor hygiene. The lack of windows and air conditioning means poor ventilation, and that is bad for people's health as well.' About 100,000 people live in cages and cubicles in Sham Shui Po, Mong Kok, Kwun Tong, To Kwa Wan and Wan Chai, the Society for Community Organisation says. A typical bed space costs up to HK$93.30 a square foot, more than the HK$72 a square foot for a four-bedroom luxury flat in Stanley. In Japan, the monthly rent of the most affordable housing, with much better living conditions, takes about 25 per cent of a resident's welfare money. In Hong Kong, a cage home can take up to 40 per cent. Kornatowski said: 'The biggest headache is that if this housing is eliminated, where will these poor people live?' He said Hong Kong should redefine 'homeless' to cover cage dwellers.