In wealthy Hong Kong, poorest live in metal cages
Leung Chun-ying took office as Hong Kong's chief executive in July pledging to provide more affordable housing in a bid to cool the anger. Home prices rose 23 percent in the first 10 months of 2012 and have doubled since bottoming out in 2008 during the global financial crisis, the International Monetary Fund said in a report last month. Rents have followed a similar trajectory.
The soaring costs are putting decent homes out of reach of a large portion of the population while stoking resentment of the government, which controls all land for development, and a coterie of wealthy property developers. Housing costs have been fuelled by easy credit thanks to ultralow interest rates that policymakers can't raise because the currency is pegged to the dollar. Money flooding in from mainland Chinese and foreign investors looking for higher returns has exacerbated the rise.
In his inaugural policy speech in January, the chief executive said the inability of the middle class to buy homes threatens social stability and promised to prioritize tackling the housing shortage.
“Many families have to move into smaller or older flats, or even factory buildings,'' he said. “Cramped living space in cage homes, cubicle apartments and sub-divided flats has become the reluctant choice for tens of thousands of Hong Kong people,'' he said, as he unveiled plans to boost supply of public housing in the medium term from its current level of 15,000 apartments a year.
His comments mark a
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