HOUSING | Vertical Slums – The Greater Issue Beyond Sanitation (2015-Future)

As much as the plague or better medical facilities could improve the hygiene and sanitation conditions of Hong Kong, land scarcity remains one of the biggest challenges in tackling housing issues in Hong Kong. Everyday, capitalistic force pressure poverty-stricken families and the young generation into more affordable options such as subdivided units or even caged homes. These units are not only overpriced, but often remain in poor sanitation conditions comparable to public housing back in the 1930’s where residents are only provided with utilities and services at bare minimum standards, turning certain private sectors of Hong Kong into essentially vertical slums which could very well repeat its tragic history like the Plague or SARS. The clip below and dissertation takes a further look into what it is like even untill present-day, to live in caged dwellings.
Daniel, D., Meghan, S. and Wong, J. (2013). Subdivided Housing Issues of Hong Kong: Causes and Solutions. 1st ed. [ebook] Hong Kong: Hong Kong Institute of Education. Available at: https://www.wpi.edu/Pubs/E-project/Available/E-project-022713-213142/unrestricted/Subdivided_Housing_Issues_of_Hong_Kong_Causes_and_Solutions.pdf [Accessed 19 Dec. 2015].

Moreover, in the 1971 American Sociological Review publication, Robert Mitchell researches into Hong Kong’s high density housing and brings up perhaps a greater issue beyond health, and that is the psychological impact on families that are brought up in such ‘inhumane’ housing conditions. Although caged dwellings and subdivided units remain under some sanitation scrutiny and medical advancements today could to an extent suppress the spreading of a disease quite effectively, Mitchell is more concerned about the emotional illness that is inflicted upon families especially for the children that grow up not knowing that home is a private place and not just a bed with a piece of thin plywood partition from the next-door neighbor.
Mitchell, R. (1971). Social Implications of High Density Housing. American Sociological Association, pp.18-29.
Siu, G. (1999).


Acknowledging the greater implications behind land scarcity, Housing Authority has already begun making efforts on expansion into the New Territories, sacrificing some portions of the green areas of Hong Kong to build more public housing schemes there. Currently there are plans to expand all the way to Shenzhen border, but whether or not the public housing schemes could catch up with its population growth and increasing land prices remain a huge challenge in Hong Kong’s future.
Land Use and Urban Planning in the Year 2000. 1st ed. [ebook] Hong Kong: Housing Authority. Available at: http://www.housingauthority.gov.hk/mini-site/housing-conference/1999/en/events/conf/conferen/pdf/egsiu.pdf [Accessed 18 Dec. 2015].

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