On 18 November 2014, Vision First gained access to another secluded refugee slum for the first time. We had explored this area before, but were not aware that refugees lived inside this rusty compound hidden by a high metal gate and wall. It was hard to distinguish this slum from a scrapyard until a collaborative refugee led us inside.
Isolated locations such as this one are ideal to conceal questionable practices such as the housing of refugees within the 1500$ rent budget that cannot be achieved in the open market. Over a half-hour walk from the closest Light Rail Train, a dozen refugees have been settled here for years with the support and approval of ISS-HK case workers
Inside there are two areas: a rickety two-storey metal structure (rooms on the ground floor) and an outside extension where metal shacks were recently converted into windowless concrete cubes with tin roofs baking in the sun. The owner might be following guidelines for more solid construction though these structures seem suspiciously illegal to an untrained eye.
The facilities can hardly be called such: sinks hangs precariously from rusty metal sheets; shower spaces are concrete floors with iron sheets with water (cold only) scooped from plastic bins; cooking is done outside against brick walls or side tables; a shared toilet is mounted in a corner without flushing water.
This appalling assemble of improper housing structures (and suspicious electrical wiring) is home to about ten refugees who are prohibited from working to supplement their 1500$ rent assistance. Such constraints leave vulnerable refugees at the mercy of unscrupulous landlords who seem to enjoy the support of ISS-HK to ensure there are no vacancies in refugee slums in rural Hong Kong.