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Hong Kong housing

Subdivided flats provoke family conflict

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 November, 2012, 4:47pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 September, 2015, 4:52pm

Over 80 per cent of tenants living in subdivided flats clash with family members over the use of the tiny spaces they live in, according to a survey by Hong Kong Christian Service released on Friday.

The survey – which polled 50 families in Yau Ma Tei and Tsim Sha Tsui districts – found that the family conflicts are due largely to the small flats and their lack of rooms. Some people literally have to “eat in front of the toilet”, it noted.

The average size of the 50 flats was 120 sq ft, while the rent per spare foot was HK$32.6, which the group says is 37 per cent higher than in ordinary private units.

Half the families have no separate rooms where they can get away from each other for a while.

“When family members are competing for space, they easily become impatient, angry and will grumble,” said Susanne Choi Wai-yee, a principal co-ordinator of the group.

“Over time, they will all accumulate a lot of negative sentiments; even in trivial matters, arguments can lead to physical fights.”

The report also found that children living in such conditions tend to have noticeably low self-esteem. “They feel ashamed of their living conditions and are unwilling to get in touch with others; their social circles are small,” it noted.

It recommended that parents take their children out to community areas more often.

Christian Service has been arranging workshops for these needy families since July, enabling them to have dinners together and gain wider social exposure.

The organisation urged the government, schools and other welfare bodies to make stronger efforts to provide more such communal spaces for such people.