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Amid protests, Hong Kong’s leader addresses one key social concern — unaffordable housing

Amid protests, Hong Kong’s leader addresses one key social concern — unaffordable housing

A widening wealth gap and increasingly unaffordable housing are some key social issues underpinning the unrest in Hong Kong, business leaders and politicians have suggested. Rental prices in Hong Kong surpass those in New York, Paris and Singapore, and many young professionals living in the Chinese-ruled territory struggle to afford housing. Some families have no choice but to rent out dorm-style rooms with bunk beds and shared bathrooms, sometimes known as “coffin homes” or “shoebox flats.”

In her annual policy speech on Wednesday, Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam introduced a slew of housing measures aimed at addressing some of those concerns. Lam said housing is the “toughest livelihood issue” facing the city’s citizens and pledged to make more land available for public housing development, according to an official translation of her remarks in Cantonese. The Hong Kong leader emphasized that housing issues are essential to social stability and “upward mobility,” defined as climbing up to the next social level.

“Every Hong Kong citizen and his family will no longer have to be troubled by, or preoccupied with, the housing problem, and that they will be able to have their own home in Hong Kong, a city in which we all have a share,” Lam pledged. Hong Kong has been repeatedly ranked as the most expensive place to own a home. The Asian financial hub has an average living space of about 13 square meters per person in 2018 — or an area smaller than the size of two average bathtubs laid out side by side. On Wednesday, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong weighed in on Hong Kong’s housing situation, saying that homes there are”very expensive,” making it hard for young people to afford them.

Amid protests, Hong Kong’s leader addresses one key social concern — unaffordable housing, CNBC, Oct 17
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