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Tse Chu sleeping

Tse Chu, a retired waiter, sleeps in his “coffin home” in Hong Kong, March 28, 2017. In wealthy Hong Kong, there’s a dark side to a housing boom, with hundreds of thousands of people forced to live in partitioned shoebox apartments, called “coffin homes,” and other forms of inadequate housing. As a new leader for the territory prepares to take office, housing unaffordability remains one of the Asian financial center’s biggest social problems. (Photo: Kin Cheung/AP)

Hong Kong’s ‘Coffin Homes’

Housing costs in Hong Kong are among the wealthy Asian financial center’s biggest problems. Rents and home prices have steadily risen and are now at or near all-time highs.

The U.S.-based consultancy Demographia has ranked it the world’s least affordable housing market for seven straight years, beating Sydney, Vancouver and 400 other cities. Median house prices are 19 times the median income.

Some 200,000 of Hong Kong’s 7.3 million residents live in “subdivided units.” That’s up 18 percent from four years ago and includes 35,500 children 15 and under, government figures show. The figure doesn’t include many thousands more living in other “inadequate housing” such as rooftop shacks, metal cages resembling rabbit hutches and “coffin homes” made of stacked wooden bunks.

It’s a universe away from the lifestyles enjoyed by the rich living in lavish mountaintop mansions and luxury penthouses, or even those with middle-class accommodation in this former British colony. (AP)

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