- Title: Homeless in Hong Kong on the rise
- Date: 26th January 2018
- Summary: HONG KONG, CHINA (JANUARY 23, 2018) (REUTERS) (MUTE) TIME LAPSE OF HONG KONG SKYLINE SUNSET HONG KONG, CHINA (JANUARY 22, 2018) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF HOMELESS PERSON CHEUNG MUK-GUN EATING MCDONALD'S BURGER FOR DINNER CHEAP BOTTLE OF CHEAP LIQUOR VARIOUS OF 24-HOUR MCDONALD'S SIGN VARIOUS OF HOMELESS PEOPLE ASLEEP AT MCDONALD'S HOMELESS MAN STRETCHED ACROSS SEATS IN MCDONALD'S HONG KONG, CHINA (RECENT - JANUARY 19, 2018) (REUTERS) CHEUNG WAITING TO CROSS ROAD CHEUNG PUSHING CART OF MEAT CART OF MEAT CHEUNG PUSHING CART PAST HOMELESS PERSON VARIOUS OF CHEUNG UNLOADING MEAT AT MARKET FROZEN CHICKEN VARIOUS OF CHEUNG HAVING COFFEE ON STREET (SOUNDBITE) (Cantonese) HOMELESS PERSON, CHEUNG MUK-GUN, SAYING: "I have no good feelings towards the government, the British government was better." JOURNALIST ASKING: "Why?" CHEUNG REPLYING: "The British are different, they at least looked after us, now it's worse off with a Chinese government. How can this government say they care about the Chinese? Twenty years after the handover what have they actually done for us?" VARIOUS OF SOCIAL WORKER NG WAI-TUNG TALKING AND GIVING JUMPERS TO HOMELESS PEOPLE SIGN READING (Chinese): "SOCIETY FOR COMMUNITY ORGANISATION" (SoCo) (SOUNDBITE) (Cantonese) SOCIETY FOR COMMUNITY ORGANISATION, COMMUNITY ORGANISER, NG WAI-TUNG, SAYING: "The number of homeless people has increased, the number of people returning to the streets has also become very serious. But why is the government taking a passive approach on the homeless situation?" HONG KONG, CHINA (JANUARY 22, 2018) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF HOMELESS PEOPLE ASLEEP IN MCDONALD'S PEOPLE BUYING FOOD AT MCDONALD'S PERSON ASLEEP ON BENCH AT MCDONALD'S HONG KONG, CHINA (RECENT - JANUARY 19, 2018) (REUTERS) SOUNDBITE) (Cantonese) SOCIETY FOR COMMUNITY ORGANISATION, COMMUNITY ORGANISER, NG WAI-TUNG, SAYING: "You can sleep properly at a 24-hour chain restaurant and not get told off by your boss when at work the next day. That's why I'm very grateful of McDonald's who look after the homeless and are not forcing them to leave. But I believe it's the government's responsibility and it shouldn't be the responsibility of private businesses (to deal with the homeless)." CHEUNG'S ILLEGAL SHACK NEXT TO BUSY ROAD CHEUNG SITTING OUTSIDE SHACK WHERE HE SLEEPS CHEUNG UNLOCKING LOCK CHEUNG ENTERING SHACK (SOUNDBITE) (Cantonese) HOMELESS PERSON, CHEUNG MUK-GUN, SAYING: "The place I sleep in has become a lot more stable, it used to be so unpredictable. I now have two meals a day, some stability in my life, a job, what more do I need in life? I'm old. I don't rely on the government, I rely on myself." HONG KONG, CHINA (JANUARY 23, 2018) (REUTERS) RADIO VARIOUS OF CHEUNG INSIDE SHACK LISTENING TO RADIO
- Embargoed: 9th February 2018 03:23
- Keywords: Hong Kong homeless property McDonald's wealth gap
- Location: HONG KONG, CHINA
- City: HONG KONG, CHINA
- Country: China
- Topics: Fundamental Rights/Civil Liberties,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0017ZQZM11
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Cheung Muk-gun's home is an illegal, wooden shack under a highway in one of the poorest areas of Hong Kong, where sky-high property prices and a yawning wealth gap have helped fuel a surge in homelessness.
The 72-year-old earns about HK$10,000 ($1,279) a month working seven days a week at a frozen meat store in the working-class district of Mong Kok, a short trip across Victoria Harbour from the city's opulent financial centre.
With property prices up 200 percent in the past decade, and a bed in a tiny, windowless apartment - often shared with other tenants - going for about HK$2,000 a month, Cheung said he preferred to live in his shack.
An apartment of around 250 square feet (23 square meters) in a new building with windows and a bathroom near Mong Kok would rent for about HK$12,000.
Since Cheung became a street sleeper more than five years ago, Hong Kong's homeless population has jumped about 30 percent to 1,800, according to the Society for Community Organisation (SocO), a non-governmental human rights group.
That compares with government data showing 1,075 registered street sleepers as of end-2017 and is double the 908 recorded in 2016. Government figures do not include so-called "McRefugees", who sleep in fast-food chains - whose numbers are significant but not officially counted - indicating homelessness is rapidly worsening in the Chinese territory of 7.3 million people.
While the government provides shelters and subsidised housing for homeless people, critics say caps on the length of time they can stay only offer short-term relief.
SoCO social worker Ng Wai-tung estimates 25 percent of Hong Kong's homeless population are McRefugees - people who call fast-food outlets home. He expects to see more in the summer when street sleepers seek air-conditioning to cool down.
Reuters visited four 24-hour McDonald's, where it found on average six people bedding down of a night in each of the restaurants. Some lay stretched out with their shoes off, while others slept with their heads on tables.
Severe shortages of affordable accommodation are driving more and more people onto the Hong Kong streets. Homelessness is now affecting sections of the population who previously could afford a place to live, such as those with jobs, according to rights groups.
Across the territory, the average price for apartments is around HK$12,000 (around $1,534) per square foot (HK$130,000 ($16,623) per square meter), partly because of a supply and demand imbalance. A report by UBS ranked Hong Kong as the world's most expensive city for apartments where the average living space is just 150 square feet per person.
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