Hong Kong has become the least affordable real estate market, where so-called “coffin cubicles” are commonplace due to its population of about 7.5 million and the scarcity of developable land. Even while the Society for Community Organization claims that for 200,000 people, this is still their only option, the United Nations has denounced these nightmare living conditions as “an affront to human dignity.”
Benny Lam told National Geographic about his experience photographing the cramped apartments: “That day, I came home and grieved.” Lam’s “Trapped” series aims to shed light on the cramped local homes that are inaccessible to Hong Kong’s glitzy neon lights. 14 Terrifying Photos Show What It’s Like To Live In Hong Kong’s “Coffin Cubicles”
As the population of Hong Kong is not a part of Lam’s life, “you may ask why we should care,” he said on his Facebook page. “They are precisely the individuals who enter your life on a daily basis, whether they are serving you as waiters at the restaurants you dine at, security guards in the malls you browse through, or cleaners and delivery people on the streets you travel. The [quality of life] is the only thing that separates them from us. Human dignity is at stake in this situation.”
In these little dwellings, everything is done—from eating to sleeping, according to Lam. Flats are sometimes unlawfully partitioned into 15 to 120 square feet (approximately 1,5 to 12 square meters) “apartments” to produce the “coffin cubicles.” To provide an example, Wong Tat-ming, 63, is on benefits because sclerosis in his leg prevents him from operating a cab. He rents an 18-square-foot apartment for roughly $307 (HK$2,400) a month.