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Living in a cage — and paying rent too? The dark side of Hong Kong's property boom

Vincent Yu / AP

62-year-old Cheng Man Wai lies in the 16 square foot cage that he calls home, in Hong Kong on Jan. 25, 2013.

By Kelvin Chan, The Associated Press

Vincent Yu / AP

A car passes luxury houses on Victoria Peak, Hong Kong's most exclusive neighborhood, on Feb. 7, 2013.

Published at 10:27 a.m. ET: For many of the richest people in Hong Kong, one of Asia's wealthiest cities, home is a mansion with an expansive view from the heights of Victoria Peak. For some of the poorest, like Leung Cho-yin, home is a metal cage.

The 67-year-old former butcher pays 1,300 Hong Kong dollars ($167) a month for one of about a dozen wire mesh cages resembling rabbit hutches crammed into a dilapidated apartment in a gritty, working-class West Kowloon neighborhood.

Vincent Yu / AP

77-year-old Yeung Ying Biu sits inside his cage home on Jan. 25, 2013.

Some 100,000 people in the former British colony live in what's known as inadequate housing, according to the Society for Community Organization, a social welfare group. The category also includes apartments subdivided into tiny cubicles or filled with coffin-sized wood and metal sleeping compartments as well as rooftop shacks. 

Forced by skyrocketing housing prices to live in cramped, dirty and unsafe conditions, their plight also highlights one of the biggest headaches facing Hong Kong's unpopular Beijing-backed leader: growing public rage over the city's housing crisis. Read the full story.

 

Vincent Yu / AP

63-year-old Lee Tat-fong walks in a corridor while her two grandchildren -- Amy, 9, and Steven, 13 -- sit in their 50-square-foot room in Hong Kong on Jan. 25, 2013. Lee, like many poor residents, has applied for public housing but faces years of waiting. Nearly three-quarters of 500 low-income families questioned by Oxfam Hong Kong in a recent survey had been on the list for more than 4 years without being offered a flat.

Vincent Yu / AP

77-year-old Yeung Ying Biu eats next to his cage on Jan. 25, 2013. The cage homes date from the 1950s, when they catered mostly to single men coming in from mainland China

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Some poor residents in Hong Kong have been forced to live in small cages. Around 100,000 people in the city live in inadequate housing, according to the Society for Community Organization. NBCNews.com's Alex Witt reports.