Despite the current Hong Kong government coming into office only recently, Frank Chan, the Secretary for Transport and Housing, attended a forum held by the Society for Community Organization (SoCo) earlier, saying the government will consider funding social welfare organisations renting out Tang Lou (tenement buildings with Chinese and Western mixed architecture) in order to convert them into approved subdivided rental apartments (coffin homes) for people in need of accommodation. Later, while attending a radio show, Frank Chan indicated that he is looking at ideas for implementing “share houses” similar to current coffin homes – or even something akin to the living arrangements in the Hong Kong movie “House of 72 Tenants” – to better deal with Hong Kong’s housing problem. It looks as if the current government is seriously considering using coffin homes to solve the housing crisis. It came as a surprise that wordings such as “luxury coffin apartments” and “ethical coffin apartments” have surfaced recently, in order to legitimize the existence of these coffin homes.
On 31st August, 2017, TVB in its programme Scoop, had a rather long segment introducing some recently up-and-coming coffin homes, including the recent “1 unit to 18 coffin homes” Shouson Hill luxury apartments in Hong Kong’s Southern District up for rent. It is simply inconceivable how the show hostess, Wingto Lam, could have presented these ocean-view coffin homes, with an area of 80 to 100 square feet and at the cost of HK$9500 per month, in an exultant manner throughout the segment.
In the latter half the segment talked about “ethical coffin apartments”, introducing Mongkok Subdivided Flats, a subsidiary of Good House Project – a social property agent linking up flat owners with subdivided flat tenants – saying that the owners have rented the property out lower than market price while being quality assured and guaranteed.
Towards the end of the segment, it raised the idea that “when private residences are subdivided, the most important thing is safety and within the law”, as if trying to send out the message that as long as it is safe and legal, the existence of coffin homes would suddenly become legitimate and justifiable.
[Image one subtitle] This is one of those “ethical subdivided flats”
[Image two subtitle] The important thing is safety and legitimate
(Images from TVB programme Scoop)