March 28, 2018

Hong Kong Reviews Radical Housing Options

Another city that is really facing the housing squeeze is Hong Kong as reported in this New York Times article that describes five ways to deal with housing shortages. Price Tags Vancouver has already discussed the usage of drain pipe as temporary downtown apartment units in Hong Kong. Besides drain pipe as housing, other ideas such as “the return of the tenements” “building to the sky”, the use of cruise ships and the use of industrial port spaces are also being discussed.
How expensive is Hong Kong?  “A single parking spot sold for $664,000 last year. Apartments only slightly bigger, and in much less desirable parts of town, go for more than $380,000. Living spaces have shrunk so much that a new term has emerged: “nano flat,” for apartments measuring around 200 square feet or less. Many Hong Kongers have been priced out of the housing market, including young people forced to live with their parents. Their discontent is said to have contributed to recent street protests like the 2014 Umbrella Movement.”
While the government has charged a task force with considering potential housing options, the return of “tong lau” the tenements that used to exist before the advent of highrises are making a comeback. Renamed and repurposed as “Bibliotheque” tiny bedroom units of 50 square feet per unit share common bathrooms and kitchens, like a college dormitory. With rents at $450 to $750 a month these mini units attract mainly young residents.
Another idea is buttressing existing residential buildings and going higher, changing buildings from 25 stories to much higher buildings. Seoul Korea has faced similar pressure but bureaucrats note that above 35 stories the quality of life and connections for residents seem to decrease. Repurposing cruise ships for apartments and adding artificial islands off Hong Kong is also under consideration as well as repurposing the Port of Hong Kong’s 900 acres to accommodate hundreds of thousands of people. Hong Kong has already constructed  port residential developments in the Taikoo Shing housing project built on the former Swire Company dockyards. This development on 8. 5 acres has 61 residential towers and houses nearly 37,000 residents according to 2011 figures. But there is a cautionary tale~the median monthly rent in the rental units in Taikoo Shing is $18,000 to $35,000 Hong Kong Dollars  for units that range from 585 square feet to 1,237 square feet.

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  1. I think the rent at Taikoo Shing is probably $18,000 HKD, which is about $3000 CAD. Not affordable housing by any means, but comparable to market housing in Vancouver.

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