>> Hong Kong's ritzy skyline is hiding a spike in homelessness. As property prices reach eye-watering levels, an affordable housing shortage has driven the number of homeless up to an estimated 1,800 people. Meet Jun Muk Dun, he's one of them. At daybreak, the 72-year-old is already trudging across the city delivering boxes of frozen meat, working double shifts, seven days a week.
His earnings, just under $1,300 US a month, still shy of monthly rent for a studio in working class district Mong Kok. Instead he sleeps in an illegal wooden shack under a highway. Hong Kong has fewer homeless than say the nearly 60,000 in Los Angeles County, but social workers are alarmed at a surge of 30% in just 5 years.
Reuters Pak Yiu has been speaking to the city's homeless.>> So when we talk about homeless people around the world, the first thing that pops into most of our minds are beggars. People who beg on the streets, live day to day, scraping what they can gather. But the homelessness situation in Hong Kong is unique.
You've got people who are working, people who can actually afford to rent a property but choose not to.>> With limits on stay at shelters, a social worker told Reuters around a fourth of the city's homeless sleeps in 24-hour McDonald's. The fast food outlets allow customers to stay overnight, giving rise to the term McRefugees.
>> We visited a number of McDonald restaurants throughout the night. And on average, there are about six to seven sleepers in each restaurant. In Hong Kong there's about 120 24-hour McDonald's restaurants. So the number of these so-called McRefugees are actually quite high.>> While Hong Kong enjoys a reputation as an affluent financial hub, its wealth gap is among the worst in Asia with one in every five people living in poverty, the worst in four decades.