Tiny Apartments and Punishing Work Hours:
The Economic Roots of Hong Kong’s Protests
HONG KONG — Rents higher than New York, London or San Francisco for apartments half the size. Nearly one in five people living in poverty. A minimum wage of $4.82 an hour.
Hong Kong, a semiautonomous Chinese city of 7.4 million people shaken this summer by huge protests, may be the world’s most unequal place to live. Anger over the growing power of mainland China in everyday life has fueled the protests, as has the desire of residents to choose their own leaders. But beneath that political anger lurks an undercurrent of deep anxiety over their own economic fortunes — and fears that it will only get worse.
The city’s affordable-housing program has not kept up.
Currently, over 250,000 people are waiting for access to public housing. The number could be even higher, but Hong Kong officials have kept the cutoff at income of less than $12,000 per year. The critics say city officials refuse to change the threshold because it would mean Hong Kong would have to build even more public housing.
“The government requirement for eligibility for public housing is not realistic in terms of people who are living in poverty,” said Brian Wong at Liber Research Community, an advocacy group…..