I learned the other day in my class that 50% of Hong Kong citizens live in public housing units. Coming from Scottsdale, Arizona, I found this statistic to be very surprising (and different from what I had expected or ever been exposed to).
The public housing program in HK is a massive component of the public economy. The government began this initiative as a means to provide “affordable housing for lower-income residents.”
This fire was a major historical event that left over 50,000 people homeless.
After the fire, and facing a surge of immigrant population, “then governor Alexander Grantham launched a public housing program to introduce the idea of “multi-storey building” for the immigrant population living there, thus commencing a programme of mass public housing, providing affordable homes for those on low incomes. Some scholars have argued that the government has been overstating the role of the fire in the history of public housing in Hong Kong. For example, Faure argues that Grantham was concerned with introducing subsidised housing as early as 1949, but encountered opposition from Chinese members of the Legislative Council.
There are numerous types of public housing settlements, normally coming to form as skyrise buildings with thousands of residents. They are not particularly nice or fancy and from the outside (as a tourist), look quite dirty. They do not afford much privacy or quiet.
These homes are far nicer and safer, however, than the settlements that squatters would build back in the 1950s.
It is interesting to see just how important a role east asian governments play in the day-to-day life of their citizens. Will universal basic income come to form in capitalistic societies in the near future?
Originally published at gonen.blog.