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52.         Shortage in the supply of housing has pushed up property prices and rental substantially. Many families have to move into smaller or older flats, or even factory buildings. Cramped living space in cage homes, cubicle apartments and sub-divided flats has become the reluctant choice for tens of thousands of Hong Kong people.

53.         After the deadly fire in Fa Yuen Street, I visited a mother and her daughter living in a sub-divided flat in the vicinity. I met a youngster who slept in a box suspended from the ceiling in a flat in Sham Shui Po. I have also been told that in some factory buildings with high ceilings, the space of a storey has been converted into three-tier wooden domestic cubicles. These places are beset with problems such as poor water supply, inadequate sewage facilities, poor ventilation and, in some cases, no natural light. The problems go deeper than the need to rent living space due to unaffordable property prices. And it is not just a matter of living in older or smaller homes. There are hygiene, health, and even safety concerns. Residents in these cubicles include both new immigrants and long-time residents of Hong Kong. Their plight has cast a dark shadow on our thriving city.


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