Home of the Past: From Squatters to Public Housing
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About the Collection

The history of public housing in Hong Kong composes a significant chapter of the post-war history of Hong Kong. In 1967, more than one million people were living in public housing, around one-fourth of the local population. The lived experiences in public housing are undoubtedly the collective memories of Hong Kong people. Today, the living conditions of public housing have greatly improved,and the housing estates vary mainly by their designs and locations. Public housing estates are almost identical in application criteria and housing facilities. However in the past, there were different types of public housing, varying by the living conditions, types of accommodation, kitchen and sanitary facilities,spaces, rents and even the self perception of the people living there. They had different names too, resettlement estates, Mark I&II blocks, Mark III&IV blocks, low cost housing, Housing Authority Estates, etc. In this collection, readers may take a tour of the different types of public housing and the socioeconomic contexts of their emergence.

The photos are contributed by Mr Ko Tim-keung from his personal collection. Among them, some were taken by missionaries when they visited the poor people there, passers-by and foreigners who visited the places, such as individual British Army and photography lovers. These photos were particularly valuable as the most genuine faces of the people's daily lives were recorded and these snapshots are not easily found nowadays.Re-visiting these snapshots is an exercise of re-examining the history of Hong Kong. The photos are organized chronologically by the types of housing that had been provided by the government at different periods of time. As government provisions of housing had close relation to the blooming of squatters after the World War II, the story of public housing here starts at land squatters and coastal squatters.

Users may study the photos by topical sections and by browsing by localities.


  • Former squatter dwellers become homeless after ...

  • Shek Kip Mei squatter huts built along Tai Hang...

  • Tai Hang squatter area

  • Tai Hang squatter area after fire