The redevelopment of old buildings in Hong Kong is cutting down the supply of "cage homes" in centrally located areas and forcing up rents for the unemployed and underemployed who can least afford to meet higher living costs.
On a per square foot basis, those who occupy "cages" of no more than 15 sq ft created by subdividing old apartments into up to 50 separate living compartments now pay landlords from several hundred dollars to up to HK$1,500 in rent each. That translates into a rental charge of HK$100 per sq ft, which is at least 25% higher than the per square foot cost of renting a luxury house on The Peak, where effective rents for a 3,000 sq ft house range between HK$70 and HK$80 per sq ft.
"It used to be easy to find a cage home in West Kowloon at a monthly rent of less than HK$1,000 two years ago. But now, you have to pay more than HK$1,000 for a cage home," said Sze Lai-shan, community organiser at the Society for Community Organisation.
South China Morning Post