The Project aims to disclose stories from the economically marginalised individuals in Hong Kong through virtual reality in creative media. It depicts the actual living conditions of the subdivided flats through the lens of virtual reality to raise the public concern and consciousness to the disadvantaged groups. This project is co-coordinated by Dr. Benjamin Ka Lun Cheng, Senior Lecturer of College of International Education , Hong Kong Baptist University and Dr. Lo Wai Han, Assistant Professor of the Department of Journalism, Hong Kong Baptist University. It was supported by HKBUS Community Project Fund.
The Hong Kong property price has been skyrocketing to a level that most citizens can hardly afford to pay even just the rental payment, which drives them to rent the seemingly cheaper SDUs to minimise their daily expenses. According to the results in the 2016 Population By-census (Hong Kong Government, 2016), there are SDUs in approximately 27,100 quarters in Hong Kong. The total number of SDUs in those quarters is estimated to reach 92,700, which means that each quarter is divided into 3.4 SDUs on average. Such subdivided flats accommodate a total of 91,800 households and 209,700 individuals, with on average 2.3 individuals in each household. The report also points out that among those households living in the SDUs in 2016, the median floor area of accommodation is 10 square metre (or 107.6 square feet). The median per capita floor area of accommodation is 5.3 square metre (or 56.5 square feet), lower than that of the domestic households: 15.0 square metre (or 161.5 square feet). Excluding rent-free households, the medium monthly rental payment of households living in SDUs was HK$4,500. Society for Community Organisation (2020) reveals in a survey that an 18-square-feet bedspace, not defined as a room, is rent at HK$105.6 per feet in 2020, which has soared by 15% compared to the rent at HK$91.6 per feet in 2019. The rent of bedspace has drastically outweighed the rent of luxurious flats. In 2020, for example, the rental payment of a luxurious flat ranging from 1,076 to 1,721 square feet is only HK$35.5 per feet; the bedspace rent is 2.97 times higher than that of a luxurious flat. In addition, the Organisation points out that the rental payment of a subdivided flat for a one-person to two-person family has occupied 45% to 50% of their total family income; the proportion between the average rental of public housing and the average tenant household income is 9.39% in 2019. This reveals that tenants of the subdivided flats only have pennies for their daily expenses after they have paid the rent, and their living standard is much deteriorated.
Hong Kong Government. (2016). Snapshot of the Hong Kong population: Characteristics of persons living in subdivided flats. Population By-census. census 2016
Society for Community Organisation. (2020). Survey on tenancy status of inadequate housing (subdivided flats, cubicle apartments, caged houses). Survey on tenancy (2020)