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The Dire Housing Crisis in Hong KongGEOG2060Ka Yau Jamie Chan25109134427thNovember 2022
Hong Kong (HK) is named the world’s least affordable housing market for the 12thyearin a row. (Ang, 2022) A city the size of a dot on the map that holds a colossal population of 7.3million is one of the wealthiest cities in the world.The city is also one of the most denselypopulated areas in the world, with such a big population in such a small geographical area, HK is12 times denser than New York City Urban area (The Antiplanner, 2018). Although the city ishome to over twelve thousand millionaires, 22% of the total population lives in poverty (Yeung,2022) and research has found that the top 10% of the wealthiest population earns over 40 timesmore than the bottom 10% (Sun, 2022a) evidencing extreme income and wealth disparity. TheHousing crisis arising from market failure in meeting surging demand is one of the most pressingissues that the city faces. Supply of housing has trouble meeting demand given the hugepopulation, scarcity of land, and the lack of affordable homes.HK is dominated by hills and mountains. Apart from the scarcity of flat urban land thatcan be used to build homes, 66.5% of land in HK is used for country parks and the wilderness. Infact, only 7% of the land is attributed to residential use. (Land usage, 2014) Because of the city’scolonial history, the government of HK is essentially the sole owner of the territory. A naturalhypothesis developed from this is that the government did not supply enough residential land,nor implement any large-scale land development plans which leave HK in a dire housingsituation. (Choy & Leung, 2022) The issue of housing shortage stems from the unavailability ofland contributed by the natural geography of the city and government policies, thus leading to thelack of affordable housing.Home prices in HK have skyrocketed by over 187% over the last decade. (Yeung, 2022)Research has found that HK citizens spend over 50% of their monthly income on rent, thehighest percentage spend on the rest in the world. (The Standard, 2021) The median income tohousing price ratio is over 18, meaning that a person would have to save up for 18 years to beable to afford an apartment. (Juneja, 2015) Although the government provides public housing ata low cost, supply long waits to meet demand. In 2022, the number of public housing applicantshit 245,000, with the highest average wait time of 6.1 years in over two decades. (Yeung, 2022)The lack of affordable housing has cornered many HK citizens who live in poverty to resort tocheaper, and often illegal accommodations like subdivided apartments and cage homes.
Subdivided homes (SDU) refer to the division of a traditional single-family apartmentinto two or more individual dwellings to accommodate additional residents. (BuildingsDepartment, 2013) These homes have become an increasingly common and popular solution forthe low-income population whose economic situations limit them from affording standardhousing. According to recent research, around 3.7% of the HK population lives in subdividedflats, where occupants range from singles or couples, and even three-generation households.

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Term
Fall
Professor
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Tags
Affordable housing, Chief Executive of Hong Kong

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