Community & Education HKFP Lens

HKFP Lens: Life in the gutter of Asia’s world city

Around 1,200 Hong Kongers are about to face another night on the streets this evening.

homeless in hong kong

Charlie Eady is a photographer from London who has lived in Kowloon for four years before moving to Switzerland. During that time, he has been working in the private sector and for a British charity.

homeless in hong kong old man park

Eady says, “I spend many Sundays wandering around with a camera deliberately trying to get lost to see what I can find. When I moved to Hong Kong I never imagined the extent of poverty here…”

homeless in hong kong bed

“… When you picture the Hong Kong skyline you never think of people sleeping in alleys or people shooting up heroin in underpasses. So, I’ve tried to focus my camera on that to show some reality.”

homeless in hong kong park bench

The Society for Community Organisation (SoCO) says that the number of homeless people in the city is increasing. Many of these people make up Hong Kong’s ‘working poor’, earning a median wage of HK$3,000-HK$5,000 – not enough to cover rent.

homeless in hong kong sofa

There are no specific Hong Kong laws which forbid sleeping on the streets but, since 2007, local councils declared war on the homeless on several fronts.

homeless in hong kong park

The authorities have been known to clear personal belongings and even use loudspeakers at hourly intervals overnight to clear areas such as the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront.

homeless hong kong roadside

Previously, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department adapted water-sprinklers to target homeless people in Tung Chau Street Park. Corrosive antiseptic powder was sprayed in the area to cause itching.

homeless hong kong shoes banner

In recent years, millions of dollars have been spent to adapt benches with handles and install uneven stones and decorations under flyovers to prevent anyone from sleeping there.

homeless hong kong sleeping floor

It has forced street sleepers to seek shelter in places such as public toilets.

homeless hong kong tunnel

SoCO has assisted 10 street-sleepers in suing the government over their treatment.

homeless hong kong

Over 40% of homeless people do not receive government welfare, many rely on low-paying jobs, scavenging and support from NGOs.

homeless hong kong

Check out more of Charlie Eady’s work here.

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HKFP Lens: Life in the gutter of Asia’s world city