Life is hard for the poor in Hong Kong, (reminded me of what my parents related the crammed "hostel" experience that they used to live in Singapore in 1960s) footing S$220 (£105) a month for a metal cage for human dwelling.
Leung Cho-yin, 67, pays £105 a month for a cage in dilapidated apartment 210,000 people are on waiting list for public housing, double from 2006 Leung and his elderly roommates wash their clothes in a bucket 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 (£105) 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.
Home to tens of thousands, such cages - stacked on top of each other - measure 6ft by 2.5ft.
To keep bedbugs away, Leung and his roommates put thin pads, bamboo mats, even old linoleum on their cages' wooden planks instead of mattresses. 'I've been bitten so much I'm used to it,' said Leung, rolling up the sleeve of his oversized blue fleece jacket to reveal a red mark on his hand.
'There's nothing you can do about it. I've got to live here. I've got to survive,' he said as he let out a phlegmy cough.
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.
They're a grim counterpoint to the southern Chinese city's renowned material affluence.
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.
Leung Chun-ying took office as Hong Kong's chief executive in July pledging to provide more affordable housing in a bid to cool the anger.
Home prices rose 23 per cent in the first 10 months of 2012 and have doubled since bottoming out in 2008 during the global financial crisis, the International Monetary Fund said in a report last month. Rents have followed a similar trajectory.
'Many families have to move into smaller or older flats, or even factory buildings,' he said.
'Cramped living space in cage homes, cubicle apartments and sub-divided flats has become the reluctant choice for tens of thousands of Hong Kong people,' he added, as he unveiled plans to boost supply of public housing in the medium term from its current level of 15,000 apartments a year.
His comments mark a distinct shift from predecessor Donald Tsang, who ignored the problem.
Legislators and activists, however, slammed Leung for a lack of measures to boost the supply in the short term. Some 210,000 people are on the waiting list for public housing, about double from 2006.
About a third of Hong Kong's 7.1 million population lives in public rental flats. When apartments bought with government subsidies are included, the figure rises to nearly half.
Anger over housing prices is a common theme in increasingly frequent anti-government protests.
'When living spaces are so congested, they would make people feel uneasy, desperate,' and angry at the government, he said.
'It's not whether I believe him or not, but they always talk this way. What hope is there?' said Leung, who has been living in cage homes since he stopped working at a market stall after losing part of a finger 20 years ago.
With just a Grade 7 education, he was only able to find intermittent casual work.
He hasn't applied for public housing because he doesn't want to leave his roommates to live alone and expects to spend the rest of his life living in a cage.
His only income is HK$4,000 (£330) in government assistance each month. After paying his rent, he's left with $2,700 (£220), or about HK$90 (£7.40) a day.
'It's impossible for me to save,' said Leung, who never married and has no children to lean on for support.
Nearly 1.19 million people were living in poverty in the first half of last year, up from 1.15 million in 2011, according to the Hong Kong Council Of Social Services.
There's no official poverty line but it's generally defined as half of the city's median income of HK$12,000 (£985) a month.
Lee Tat-fong is one of those waiting. The 63-year-old is hoping she and her two grandchildren can get out of the cubicle apartment they share in their Wan Chai neighborhood, but she has no idea how long it will take.
Lee, who suffers from diabetes and back problems, takes care of Amy, nine, and Steven, 13, because their father has disappeared and their mother - her daughter - can't get a permit to come to Hong Kong from mainland China. An uncle occasionally lends a hand.
The three live in a 50sq ft room, one of seven created by subdividing an existing apartment.
They share the communal kitchen and two toilets with the other residents. Welfare pays their HK$3,500 (£285) monthly rent and the three get another HK$6,000 (£490) for living expenses but the money is never enough, especially with two growing children to feed.
Lee said the two often wanted to have McDonald's because they were still hungry after dinner, which on a recent night was meagre portions of rice, vegetables and meat.
According to Hui Weng Tat, associate professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy:
====> "We have a LARGE number of households who are EARNING INCOME in the LOWER END and NOT having ENOUGH to COVER their HOUSEHOLD EXPENDITURE, especially at the lower 20%." A study by the National University of Singapore's (NUS) social-work department stated that "the working poor in Singapore … is defined as someone earning less than half of the average monthly income of a Singaporean, which now stands at S$3,000". The World Bank's poverty line is set at 50% of the country's mean income.
A growing upper class – 17% of Singapore's population has a net worth of over S$1m
and more rich individuals are flocking here, drawn by the low corporate tax rate, no capital gains or estate tax, and a personal income tax capped at 20%.