There’s the interior design company called “homeless,” seen here, and then there’s the social problem of the homeless — you don’t see many of them living on the streets in Hong Kong, but there is a real housing problem in the city. While we and the business world tout our lassez faire attitude to the economy, I think it would be better for the government to spend more time and money on the welfare of its citizens.
Unfortunately, the government is run by landlords, and landlords benefit from high rental and purchase prices. Which means we have people on years-long waiting lists for public housing, the least fortunate living in cage homes, and even the reasonably well off, such and Leela and me, paying US$2700 for a 1400-square foot dwelling out in the New Territories — and our friends envy our low price, mainly because we have had the same reasonable landlord for 15 years.
And in the city, the small food and retail shops that made Hong Kong such a pleasure for its residents are disappearing under the weight of soaring rents as international brands are paying exorbitant sums to cater to rich tourists from the Mainland, who were 36 million of our 50 million visitors last year. There’s more to the situation than can be covered in a single post, but I read the other day that 40% of Hong Kong people say they are considering retiring somewhere else … so the people who helped make Hong Kong what it is can no longer afford to retire here. It would take a landlord not to care about that statistic.