The economic crisis suffered by the population of almost 7.5 million people in Hong Kong is not a fantasy of movies and series like ‘The Squid Game‘, More than 200,000 must be crammed into tiny houses, known as ‘coffin houses’, of just 15 square feet (4 square meters), because they are unable to pay the high rental prices.
In the room they cannot stand up. The space barely allows them to fit a simple mattress that is attached to a shelf attached to the wall, the only place to store personal belongings and, some with more possibilities, to hold the television. Clothes are hung on side and side rails. There are no windows.
Larger homes have a bathroom, kitchen, and laundry area in one room. The sink also doubles as a dishwasher. The shower is a hose. In the others, there is no kitchen or laundry area, and the bathroom is a small hole at the end of the room, without a door, just where the mattress ends.
This can be seen in the Trapped series, by photographer Benny Lam, who documented this difficult situation suffered by entire families, after visiting more than 100 subdivided departments; for the Society for Community Organization (SOCO), an NGO that works for the dignity of life of the population.
About 20 houses of this type are illegally built by the owners on a 400-square-foot (60-square-meter) floor, at a monthly value of about $ 225 per space. This is how even children live, in inhumane conditions, due to the increase in housing prices.
“You may be wondering why we should care, since these people are not part of our lives (…) They are exactly the people who come into your life every day: They serve you as waiters in the restaurants where you eat, they are the security guards in the shopping centers you roam through, or the cleaners and delivery men in the streets you pass through. (…) The only difference between them and us is (their homes). This is a question of human dignity ”, Lam wrote on Facebook.
Benny Lam’s Trapped series was shortlisted for the 2017 Prix Pictet.
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