Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mobile Homeless

Shenzhen Daily is taking an interest in the plight of the migrants. It highlights the difficulty of finding affordable housing in the region, even though many new buildings have no residents. People who can afford housing tend to purchase multiple apartments and seem unconcerned when they can't find tenants--a lack of flexibility during rent negotiations leads to many empty apartments. This has led to workers, such as the ones in the article, to live on the streets.

It was not uncommon to see laborers all around my neighborhood in Nanshan district--they picked through trash for recyclables or potential building materials; they offered one-time services to residents and businesses. But many of these people seemed to disappear at night. Most of these people could be found by the reclaimed land of Shenzhen Bay--they slept next to piles of styrofoam and other reusable materials on a road that was inaccessible to traffic. Along side streets in the neighborhood, people slept on cots hidden by bushes and trees. Down the main road, next to the Guomei parking lot was a shack set up against a small power station--no one seemed to notice the family living inside, and they never bothered anyone on the street.

While there are still many opportunities in Shenzhen for the migrant population, it has become less popular. With more factories opening in the interior of China, migrants are choosing jobs closer to their hometowns, thus creating a job shortage in cities like Shenzhen and Guangzhou. The minimum wage in Guangdong has risen over the past few years (in Shenzhen it was 800 RMB/month in 2005, it's now over 1000 RMB/month), but the cost of living has skyrocketed.


Yokie Kuma said...

You may or may not remember, there was the walking path that followed the coast of the bay from NanShan into Futian (it has since been walled off and closed). Anyway, near the NanShan end (close to the Kempinski), that path went under the road through a small tunnel. I used to ride my bike that way ....

Imagine the surprise one day as I came riding through and 8 to 10 of the migrant workers made that tunnel their home. Bunk beds along the sides of the walls. A tattered couch. A small cooking stove (gas). And someone had run a 100' extension cord and tapped into a nearby powerline for electricity!

It was hard to say who was more surprised. Me for coming upon this unawares ... or them for watching me ride through the middle of their living room.

Matthew said...

I vaguely remember a path along the bay--was it along the highway? I never came across a tunnel around there, but I'm not surprised that there was one.