Hong Kong’s McDonalds Becomes A Home For The Homeless At Night

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According to Suraj Katra: “After visiting one of the McDonald’s restaurants at 2am in Hong Kong’s Sai Ying Pun district to grab a quick bite, I witnessed a number of people sleeping there. The staff then started making rounds to wake these people up but they continued to sleep.”

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“I inquired with the staff about the situation and they said they tried to turn these people away but, “they keep coming back”. I decided to investigate if this was the case in the other 24 hour McDonald’s restaurants as I thought the story would provide an interesting social angle to a city most often associated with wealth and abundance.”

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“As I entered some of the McDonalds at various odd hours of the night to capture these images, many a times I was struck by the unmistakable body odor and smelly feet of 30-40 people, who had taken over an entire section of McDonalds to sleep.”

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“According to The Hong Kong Census and Statistical Department, 19% of the population is living on or below the poverty line, which is a sizable number in this city of 7 million that is consistently ranked as one of the most expensive places to buy property in the world.”

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“When I approached some of my subjects to ask them why they chose to spend their nights in McDonalds, the most common response was that they simply couldn’t afford to live in a permanent accommodation and most had to do with temporary arrangements. McDonalds is where they go when they had no other place to go! Though they were thankful that they did not have to resort to sleeping in the street, it brought a smile to hear some of them complain about the limited food menu offered in McDonalds.”

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“I was pleasantly surprised to hear a smattering of good English, but could sense their helplessness from their expressions and tone. Some of them forbade me from taking their pictures because they said they did not want their friends and relatives to know about their situation as they would “lose face” in front of them.”

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“There were people who choose to work odd-hour shifts and lodge here until the train starts running again in the morning. It was appalling and depressing to witness people drinking alcohol, smoking and washing up in the McDonalds toilet in some outlets that were located in the decaying parts of the city. The fact that the police is sometimes called in to clear them out means that they are here to stay and homelessness is a reality in this city of millionaires.”

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Photos by Suraj Katra.

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