Hong Kong Citizens Are Living in Cages… Literally
November 21, 2009 | by V Saxena

Hong Kong is a vibrant city chock-full of people — so much so that the quality of life for those at the bottom tier is atrocious. And I’m not talking about, “Oh my goodness, I have to share a bathroom with my brother and sister.”  I’m talking about up to 18 strangers being smashed into a tiny 625 square foot flat with just one toilet to share.


One such former cage-dweller is Chau Kam-chuen. Mr. Kam-chuen used to be one of over 400,000 working poor who paid approximately $167.6 USD to live in such an environment. According to him, it’s extremely uncomfortable, especially if you get the top bunk: “You hit your head on the ceiling.”

The way it works is that a flat is chosen and then partitioned into multiple cubicles, each composed of wooden planks and wire mesh. Each cubicle then becomes home to one resident.


The cage that the woman sits in above contains all her possessions, from clothes to cooking supplies and even family heirlooms. Realistically speaking, the cage is smaller than a jail cell; yet, these cages house thousands of poverty-stricken men and women who have nowhere else to turn.


And they aren’t comfortable either. Oftentimes, the air-conditioning and heating doesn’t work. Or if it does work, it rarely gets turned on before 9m.  As Lai Man-law, an employed man from Hong Kong explained, “It’s dirty and hot. There are cockroaches and bedbugs, and the air-conditioning doesn’t work.”

One wonders though why someone would choose to live like this. Most of these people have no alternative option. These are normal everyday citizens who befell upon hard times and ended up unemployed, homeless, and struggling to make ends meet. The horrific floods of 2008 didn’t help either, as it forced many into homelessness and poverty.

To bring this unfortunate situation to light, Hong Kong’s Schoeni Gallery decided to focus their annual art charity event on displaying these cages directly to the public. Their goal was to showcase the widening gap between the poor and rich in Hong Kong.


The cages displayed are real cages from real flats. In fact, the man pictured above is Mr. Kam-chuen himself. He hopes that this event inspires more people to offer a helping hand to those in need — especially the poor cage dwellers of Hong Kong.

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V Saxena
I hail from Raleigh, North Carolina. I was raised in America and intend to bring up my children as proud Americans because I am defined by neither my past nor the color of my skin, but rather by the path I choose to take in life. It is this option to be who and what I want that has me so enamored with my Mother country: the United States of America. For more information, please visit http://conservativenewsfeed.com.
  • omg… thats so sad..

    • we do even worse to animals so I have no problem with this. They should be happy they can leave their cage as they want.

      • Are you seriously comparing PEOPLE with ANIMALS??? Ironically, you've just illustrated the problem: with these cages, people are being treated like animals – in fact, most pets are treated better – and you have no problem with this. You're either extremely ignorant or a psychopath…SHUT THE HELL UP.

      • WOW… so your the kind of person that would jump in front of a car to save a cat.. but yell at a child because they shouldnt have been playing in the street… your pretty messed up.. and who is "we"?? cuz i treat my pets extremely well.. but i still wouldnt put their needs before a human being.. your an ignorant fool!

        • Stuart Hannig is obviously from PETA, if you are curious when he mean "WE". People from PETA like Stuart are practically nut jobs

        • Umm you put your pets needs before other humans on a daily basis.

          Your helping your pets and giving them food and shelter, not these poor people in china. So exactly what was the point of your reply? To show how dumb you are?

          Maybe it was just too obvious for you to see that,…I don't know..

      • you're dispectable, first off, if these people are poor,of course, they would have to resort to eating taboo animals like dogs, these people are uneducated, their own people despise them, their corrupted politians would careless OF THEM only to fufill their OWN WANTS and if you would protested about animal cruelty TO THEM of course they'll ignore you, THEY HAVE TO LIVE TOO! THATS WHY GOD OFFER MAN ANIMALS TO EAT! I BET YOU PROBABLY FUCK ANIMALS THAN YOUR OWN PEOPLE

      • wow you need serious mental help. please leave your computer and look into intense therapy.

      • go fuck your MOTHER!!!!!!!!YOU STUPID FAGGOT!!!!!!!animals have no basic intelligents im not saying that they are useless…..think about it,a human with no food no home,and a cat with no food no home….which one will yu choose to help?cats can already support themself but a human?YOU HEARTLESS BITCH!!!!!

      • Your a dick mate. Animals might be living creatures just like everyone else on this planet but do you seriously think a human life is worth less than an animal that can barely grasp the concept. Twat.

  • Dugg for appropriate use of the word “literally.”

  • its very sad

  • It is not only sad, but far below than the tolerance level. They have to seek a permanent solution to resolve this crucial issue, which is long over due.

    James Oh

  • Yes, but we also have unemployment benefits in the USA, and programs to help get those people off the streets and help them maintain permanent jobs.

  • I've been told I am over-qualified for many a job – survival of the fittest?

  • We have people sleeping on the streets in the USA…

    • Why must all discussions end up back at the United States? It is possible to discuss problems in other countries without turning around and pointing a finger at the U.S. Besides, let's be fair if we're going to start looking around at other countries issues. Japan has rural dwellers who have been denied welfare and have starved to death in their own homes while utility bill collectors walked away after seeing them crawling on the floors of their homes. All countries have homeless people.

      Really, discussing this problem, which is tragic, has nothing to do with America. Most of the homeless in the U.S. could live in shelters or other places, but they don't like the rules and prefer to be on the streets or in their cars. If you don't believe that, start reading the "Homeless Tales" blog (homelesstales.com) which is written by homeless folks and discusses their situations in great detail.

      And let's try not to make every article a competition for awfulness with the U.S. Sheesh.

      • "Most of the homeless in the U.S. could live in shelters or other places, but they don't like the rules and prefer to be on the streets or in their cars."

        Okay, I don't need to do any research to tell you that that's a ridiculous, sweeping generalization. Most homeless people prefer to live on the streets? Yeah buddy, I'll bet.

        And if somehow that is the case, what does that say about all of our programs in place? If people would rather not use them, I guess they can't be great. Clearly the system is screwed up. Maybe they're just cages stacked up high with cockroaches and bedbugs?

        I can have sympathy for the rest of the world, but I feel like somehow people like you think that every homeless person in America is an undeserving drug addict who did this to themselves and had every opportunity to lead a prosperous life, while the homeless in the rest of the world are poor, helpless individuals.

        • Regardless you're still retarded for trying to equate living on a street where you have many more opportunities for help to living in a 5' x 3' cage in a tiny room with 20 other people in China. That doesn't make the situation in the US any better, so don't think I'm saying that, but the above point still stands.

          • Actually, Mang – he is correct. Research has proven that the chronically homeless will more then likely refuse welfare services. It's a huge probem that poverty-stricken areas are forced to deal with. I can't post links on here, but search google for Chronic Homeless refuse welfare, and a good number of results come up.

            And Frank, before I go shelling my money (including taxes) off to benefit another country, I would want to look out for my own first.

          • Zach, mankind is my own… I am also sick of every person bringing it back to the U.S and the homeless there. Yes I agree it is a very sad situation that the US government spends billions on war while ignoring the fact that their country is currently at its highest poverty levels ever. Meanwhile I can still feel disheartened to read a story about the hong kong people who suffer also. Be a patriot to the world and all its citizens

          • I agree, and these people try looking for Jobs.. Homeless in the US on the other hand….

    • USA is nothing compare to elderlies living in those conditions.. USA citizens choose to not work and most of them are under 40 and capable to seek work

  • Frailest survive… Lolz!

  • I can't believe it…Is painfull and shows the type of government that is in place and if not checked is worth international incursion

  • Yes, hephzibah, a government is to blame. For 99 years the british administrators failed to erradicate poverty in Hong Kong. The communists have been at it for a couple of decades now, lets see if they do any better.

    • Hong Kong is still not communist since it was handed over to the Chinese since it is a Special Administrative Region. Hong Kong would have to wait till 2047.

  • Can we compare these Hong Kong citizens to the homeless of the U.S.? I mean, are there also homeless in Hong Kong? I don't know.

    • Yes there are homeless in Hong Kong at this time of year some may freeze to death as in past years. I lived there from 1991-2000 and the spaces poor people occupy are not like in the USA. You have have entire families of multiple generations living in 300 sq. foot apt. because that is what the government may supply in its public housing.

      There is no unemployment – you don't work – you don't eat – simply put.

      But they do have socialized medical care or private insurance if you choose and it works. They also have a flat tax on ALL but the very poor – who pay nothing. About 15% for everyone else – no complicated forms – just fill out what you made and the government sends you a bill. They also have surplus funds – so much so that each adult is getting about US$760 back from government this year.

      There have been worse conditions in HK in past and there will always be poor conditions there. It is just the way it is… at least they can go to the hospital or clinic for care.

  • You all are pretty ridiculous. Arguing over whether or not an animal’s needs should be put before a human’s. The problem stands that there are, unfortunately, a large group of people WORLDWIDE that cannot make ends meet; and therefore must resort to living styles they normally wouldn’t. But people who have the luxury of being able to go online and check little blogs such as these on a daily basis, don’t realize that sitting here and bickering about it doesn’t solve, much less alleviate the problem at hand. Instead of insulting one another for their preferred opinions, why not agree that the living situations of the poverty-stricken in Hong Kong are atrocious and there needs to be something done about it. Not try and sweep them under the rug, hoping they’ll either die out or just become someone else’s problem.

    • ;) how bout you be the first to do something instead of criticizing others.

      • I wouldn't be so ignorant or childish as to deem myself the first, but I most definitely have. Unfortunately, reality is, a small group of people joining organizations to send financial support isn't going to put much of a dent in the situation. You must think yourself clever to assume me to be a person sitting on such a high horse, but my previous comment was merely a suggestion not a means to only criticize others; using the examples I had to attempt getting the focus back on the bigger picture. But thanks for trying.

  • Serves them right for eating cats and dogs

  • the most sick about all comment is, many of you forget, that that place is so much better than rural place in Jakarta or Bangladesh, they live on the street (literary), and eat junk in trash bin from mcdonalds, starbuck, KFC, or burgerKing.

    YES all of YOU should know the REAL PROBLEM IN THIS WORLD!!

    • You are foolish.
      The point of this article, if you could read clearly, is to raise awareness.
      It is not up to you or anyone to decide what deserves awareness and what doesn't.
      If you insist on arguing over which is worse, living in cages or poverty stricken in rural areas then you need a firm kick in the ass.
      "YES all of YOU should know the REAL PROBLEM IN THIS WORLD!!" wait wait, ok buddy tell me.
      Is it corrupt governments? Poverty? AIDS? Over priced gas? Mulitnationals ruining human rights? War?
      Malaria? Flooding? God? I dunno tell me Mr. Smartman.
      Until I see you in Hong Kong helping out, or in Jakarta passing out rations then you can go back in your hole instead of preaching awareness over more "important" problems.
      Fuck who cares what the "real problems" are, they all need help from first world people like us wasting our time on the internet, so why don't we go help?

      • problem: hunger. case closed

      • When one is starving to DEATH from lack of any Human care of any sort, then this case MUST be given priority. How can any human being put a well fed persons importance above one suffering from STARVATION? YOU ARE WORSE THAN MERELY FOOLISH! Your priorities are wrong! Human beings come first, not your ignorant misguided opinions.

  • so very sad indeed. :( i hope they have jobs in the4 city or else i don't see why they should be living the the city.

  • Take all these people and dump at Vatican who want to protect unborn fetus. Ask these priests to donate all their worldly things to these poor people. China over produced people – proliferation of any kind and they have to pay a price. It is the way nature works. Pitying and reporting here will not make the Chinese authorities change their life. They want more corruption. Under educated and uneducated people anywhere will suffer. .

  • They badly need help and government should look after those peoples.

  • China "over produced" people so they have to pay a price? Well how about America's fewer children are the most wasteful/energy-consuming per capita, so hopefully karma will bite their asses in the end too, according to your rationale.

  • Living condition in parts of India are MUCH WORSE than any of these cases. Your pity is misdirected, these people have food and a safe place to sleep, many others in Africa and India have none of these things.

  • If you are unemployed and living in a cage home, wouldn't you have a lot of free time to at least clean the bathroom? It is the filth that is the problem, not the lack of space. Soldiers live in barracks, truckers sleep in their trucks, Japanese businessmen stay in "coffin" style hotels, and American tourists love their winnebagos. If those cage places were clean, the story would be, "what a clever solution to the homelessness problem this is!"

    • wolfgang allgöwer

      Hi, ich bin aus Deutschland und interessiere mich für asiatische Produkte – auch für Computer, Note-, Net-, Paperbook Dokumentationen. Und wenn jemand gute Offerte über Strom, Telefon oder Lebensversicherungen sowie private Krankenversicherungen hat, möchte ich auch diese gerne per Post, Email oder Telefon haben. Meine Daten sind:
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  • I agree with mashplum

  • Just for comparison, U.S. Sailors live in a "Rack" that measures about 3 foot high, 4 foot wide by 7 foot long for years at a time. For some, all their possessions are stored there as well although the Navy restricts what can be stored there. Officers will occupy a space similar to the 1st floor cubes here and are called "Staterooms". Depending on rank, Staterooms are shared by two officers. Admittedly there are more toilets per occupant and the showers are more roomy on a U.S. Naval Ship. On most US submarines, they 'Hot Rack". That means the "Rack" is shared by two men, so it's always warm when one guy gets off work, as the previous guy had just woke up for his duty.

  • it is so sad. i appreciate your work, this will help them to get help from someone who read this article.

  • serve them right for not working hard when they're young.. now they have to suffer when they're old. its all about karma. not everyone is born rich, hence you work your way up.

    • you're bloody idiotic.

      I can't even think of an appropriate response to this garbage.

    • You obviously never experience real life.

    • Wolfgang Allgöwer

      Hi, ich bin aus Deutschland und interessiere mich für asiatische Produkte – auch für Computer, Note-, Net-, Paperbook Dokumentationen. Und wenn jemand gute Offerte über Strom, Telefon oder Lebensversicherungen sowie private Krankenversicherungen hat, möchte ich auch diese gerne per Post, Email oder Telefon haben. Meine Daten sind:
      Allgöwer Wolfgang
      Doppelmayrweg 59
      90469 Nürnberg / Deutschland
      Telephone + 49 911 8 00 28 22

  • they're living like dogs with zero human dignity. The "story" should be asking: Why don't these folks clean up their living quarters? I lived in a lot LESS space for 4 years in the Coast Guard on board boats and it was both decent and fun. It's hard for me to feel sorry for a guy that can't clean his own friggin toilet.

  • If you don't feel sorry for them then you don't deserve to live. Yes they can clean up and crap but it costs money which they obviously do not have. Most necessities are donated. Listen before you comment.

    Coast guard, army barracks… you all make money and have the luxury to be PROVIDED with cleaning products to clean shit up.

    Basically, instead of talking yourselves up, do something about it. Write a letter or email them. I donate $500 a month to charities, what will you do?

  • how is this funny? its not funny at all…why u so heartless?

  • This is simply awful to hear about. I guess when there's all the talk about the environment and China not doing enough, it kinda makes sense when you hear that there are people living in cages. I think they deserve something better than that!

  • Wow, I cant even begin to imagine! That is so sad. I have been to Hong Kong on several ocassions and have never had to see this.


  • i wonder where their children are .. seeing that most of them are elderly :S
    it's heartbreaking! :( i wish they receive help soooooon!

  • What they need is not only short term help, but the mechanism to drag them out of that kind of life…

  • My god, how can they live in that cage for so long!!! DIY Awards

  • What ever works for them. We all came from hard situations. Maybe they can market those bunk beds in America.

  • Some of you are real gold. I feel bad for the parents and countries (mainly US looks like) that raised you.

    Poverty is poverty. It doesn't matter where you are or whether you live in a capitalist democracy or a socialist communist state. Grow the hell up and educate yourselves. You have tons of problems in your own countries you'd be able to see and do something about if you weren't so blinded by patriotism and hate for the evil, evil communists.

  • too many people in world is sad truth. china has led the way .couples must restrict there children to one or more people will suffer in the future around the world.

  • These photos are so morbid.

    Your girl Mary :)

  • Ha hah ha …free markets LOL.

    Jimmy Lai must be so proud of himself.

    Even communist China has more income equality and lower unemployment than Hong Kong. No universal suffrage. Keep the poor people stupid. Tip to poor people: Join a triad.

  • am living in poverty myself and can't assist u,i hope there would be help soon.

  • u is one sicko,may God help u

  • Wow, that's really sad to see. I can't believe people in other countries have to live like this. Terrible.

  • communist gov ? they will probably beat up these poor people when they go on riot and cover up for the big corporation as it's probably one of their own

  • communist gov ? they will probably beat up these poor people when they go on riot and cover up for the big corporation as it's probably one of their own

  • You are so heartless. There are people being poor and have to live in Cages. What if you live in there? What does it feel? You sicko man.

  • Capital Gold Group

    The condition is miserable.The photos show how badly the people are treated there. I feel very sad for those people who suffer all this unbearable conditions.Government should take some strict actions to help them out..

  • brisbane painter

    they really just need the help. http://brisbanehousepainter.net

  • Government want to see this that there is to much problem. Really good video coverage by the news channel.

  • I think its painfull and shows the type of government that is in place and if not checked is worth international incursion

  • Miserable condition.. The problem stands that there are, unfortunately, a large group of people worldwide that cannot make ends meet; and therefore must resort to living styles they normally wouldn't. But people who have the luxury of being able to go online and check little blogs such as these on a daily basis, don't realize that sitting here and bickering about it doesn't solve, much less alleviate the problem at hand. http://irstaxlawyers.org/CA/San-Diego

  • what a sad story..

  • We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope……………thats the thing I want to say for these peoples

  • This makes our prisons look like a luxury hotel. Many people don't seem to get how lucky we are to be born in the USA.Now the caged people will never have money to get out of the cage because no one employ them.Maybe increasing the minimum wage to… oh i dunno.. something! would help.

  • well this is a great post. thanks for increasing my knowledge that people of Hong Kong lives in cages. well this is really tough, but god has made them like this. The living conditions are really miserable but still people are staying there.

  • my goodness. people living in the cage are really living horribly. nice post.

  • I am planing to travel to Hong Kong in January to help run a project to help these people. Its hard to believe that in a City that recently had a Apartment sell for 55+ million US $ that such places not only exist but that thousands of people are forced into living in these places. Very sad, but in documentary films I have seen about these people they still smile. Thats what you call a real human, living in these conditions and still being able to smile.

  • I see both sides of the coin. One toilet for all those people is unspeakable, I'm sure the conditions are not much better. However, at least they have a roof over their heads and a place to sleep at night.

    As for the comment about people in america sleeping on the streets: the majority of those people choose to. They either refuse to follow the rules of shelter (not drinking smoking drugs etc) there are fewer people on the street who are seeking help and not getting it.

    TTT's comment on Karma. Karma doesn't kick you in the ass for not working. It is true, you reap what you sow. However, you do not know any of these peoples story. I am sure that some are there for a life of laziness, I bet that a good bit of them have just had a horrible hand in life. Sometimes you struggle and not get anywhere. Don't be so judgmental!

    I agree that the there should be something done about the conditions. I think they are also very thankful to have some where to live too.

  • Buncha panzies. I've been in a homeless shelter in NYC, and these folks have got it GOOD. I've seen way worse right here in America.

  • omg is this true??=( I am from HK but I have never heard of this…

    • Than you are probably one of the rich asses in HK who doesn't have a clue what the big picture is like in Hong Kong

  • Could I use the last picture of this article for an Adobe contest that I am entering? My entry is a website about the division between social-economic classes in Hong Kong. Please reply as soon as possible because I have to submit it soon. Thank you very much.

  • I can’t believe this. Our government does nothing about this. This is the most embarrassing s*** for us HK people

  • Call me cold but Hong Kong is a bustling business capital, it is clear that none of these people are working or require to live within the proximity of the city. There are places with simpler affordable lifestyles elsewhere, where your $176 will go a lot further. Life is difficult and you have to make your own breaks, you can't expect to be unproductive yet live in anything more than a crate in a city where accommodation is in high demand. There are people out there that are dying through disease and famine. These people just live a bit close together and appear to be unable to tidy up after themselves.

  • For the truly filthy rich of the world to see this situation and turn their heads is a disgrace. There are many super wealthy people of that country, but they justify their selfishness by just not wanting to "throw money" at people.

  • Just like New Orleans. Wanted to see how people really live and it's not a pretty sight in large part. Yes there are pockets of areas uptown with truly beautiful homes, prosperous people. THen there is the gritty, dirty underbelly. The drug soldiers on the corners, the areas devastated by hurricanes, the streets that look and drive as if an earthquake has hit them. It's a disgrace. When you go as a tourist, you see Canal Street, the French Quarter. The touristy areas are not the real city

  • wow its hard to believe that we as humans can still live a full life even in these conditions, it should make us all gr8ful for what we have.

    House Painter Brisbane

  • it's so sad………………..

  • It's all thanks of our hard working government and real estate giants we made our best appearance to the whole world.

    With PPP ranked #8 in the world, we will now survive horay!

  • I hate how everyone is saying WELL it's worse over here at _____
    It's still terrible! Doesn't make it any less bad :/

  • Wow, the people commenting and comparing these people to soldiers – they are not! They do not have money accumulating in their bank accounts while they live here.
    As stated in the article, these people have fallen on hard times – and those that say they should leave the city if they do not work there: where exactly should they go?
    This city is what they know, and where they come from.

    Yes, there is worse poverty in the world, and that it something we should all address. This is not a competition. Hopefully the people of HK and the government (local and the PRC) can understand this situation and provide a possible solution to the future for these 18 people and others in similar positions.

  • Maybe a job is a human right. Would it really destroy civilization if we guaranteed everyone a job that paid enough to pay rent? According to bankers it would. The reality is that poverty helps government hold power because it keeps people in fear. Karl Jung wrote extensively on the effects of keeping humans stressed and powerless.

    • During the depression the government actually paid writers to write books (fiction, non fiction and poetry)! I am sure most of them were garbage, but that is why we had so many great writers through the 1940s and 50s. Now government "stimulus" spends $800k to create a single $40k a year job with $760,000 in kickback to the "Job Creator". Government was much more efficient in 1933.

  • There are people responding to this article whom I hope die slowly of cancer. This is disgusting as it is disgusting everywhere in the world where economics chooses its winners and its losers. Where there are dense concentrations of humans – life is cheapened. It is a symptom of two fundamental problems; too many humans; economics are not the basis of any model that shall succed humans beyond this current animal-like evolutionary state. Populations down over the world. Replace the monetary system. Easier said than done but this kind of thing will always be a symptom of the two aforementioned global diseases. I am right. Fuck anyone that contests this.

    • Also, anybody who believes Godly forces are responsible for this and that this 'the order' needs to stop hiding behind imaginary friends and excuses and be brave to question the world alone, with intellect.

  • You should all know that most of the people living in these conditions are not “uneployed” or “lazy”. Minimum wages is must lower in HK .. think HKD$13 an hour.. that’s less than USD$2 or less than €1.50 an hour. I’ve know people who work all week, over 14hours a day and only make about HKD$6000 a month.. tha’ts about $600..now that money has to pay for food, travel and everything else. So what you have left at the end of the day for rent ..is pitiful! And in HK such an overcrowed place.. you can bet your ass rent is mad expensive.. even in the most remote of places. And places like this is all some people can afford..even after working a full 60hour week. So for those of you bitching about how bad everything is for you, really think about how much it would suck that you work such long hours and get paid shit and then this is the “home” you come back to.. a cage.. with people living about u and below you and every which way.
    You also see a loot of old people living in these places cos.. not due to lack of working when they were younger.. but they were never paid a proper wage.. and hence could never “afford” to save any money..and the state pension for old people is laughable at best in HK.. they barely get enough for food..that most of the time you see these old people eating big bowls of rice (as rice is cheap and filling) with the same fish they’ve been eating for the past 3 days.. to make it last.. and having to cook it on a portable cooker on their own bed as that’s all the space you are given. Most of these old people will work till the day they die.. going out from sunrise to sunset collecting empty cans and carboard to sell to make some extra cash.. you know.. in case they needed to see a doctor or something. So for all you people out there saying that these people are better off than some homeless shelters (remember than most of these people are renting and working.. and not beggers looking for handouts) and that it’s not as bad as this and that.. you try living and working under such conditions for 30years and see how u feel about it after that… Morons!

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