cities (209)

Tiny Apartments and Punishing Work Hours: The Economic Roots of Hong Kong’s Protests

Excerpts from article by Alexandra Stevenson and Jin Wu, July 22, 2019, New York Times:

“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.

“We thought maybe if you get a better education, you can have a better income,” said Kenneth Leung, a 55-year-old college-educated protester. “But in Hong Kong, over the last two decades, people may be able to get a college education, but they are not making more money.”

Mr. Leung joined the protests over Hong Kong’s plan to allow extraditions of criminal suspects to mainland China, where the Communist Party controls the courts and forced confessions are common. But he is also angry about his own situation: He works 12 hours a day, six days a week as a security guard, making $5.75 an hour.

He is one of 210,000 Hong Kong residents who live in one of the city’s thousands of illegally subdivided apartments. Some are so small they are called cages and coffins.
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Shelter in The City

In Berkeley Tuesday. It’s so heartbreaking to see what’s going on in the cities these days, a result of the great transfer of wealth to the upper 10%.

The name of our company is Shelter. When we started in the early ’70s, it was a positive thing to build your own house or somehow create your own shelter. Don’t pay rent; don’t get locked into a bank with a mortgage. Because I’ve built my own home(s), I’ve never paid rent or had mortgage payments — think what that’s meant over a 50 year period!  These days, things are desperate. You see it everywhere, but especially in housing, as the politicians in charge of the US government continue to skew things in favor of the rich at the expense of the poor and middle class.

The principles, as shown amply in our 7 building books, are still the same these days:
1. Keep it small. The heart of our book Shelter, published 45 years ago, was a section with plans for 5 small homes. Shelter II has plans for another 5 homes.
2. Look around in cities and towns for small fixer-uppers.
3. Do as much for yourself as possible, with your own hands. You don’t have to do it all. Do what you can — it’ll pay off in increased independence and savings (and satisfaction).

Shameless Commerce Dept.: Shelter is 30% off for the rest of September, with free shipping. Two or more books are 30% off at any time. We encourage you to buy books from independent booksellers, but IF you buy books online, buying them from us is cheaper than Amazon.

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