There are enclosures and more of them.
Hong Kong government has yet to stop its enclosures of where the homeless sleep. Once a refuge for the homeless, footbridges, the space underneath and subways are now enclosed with layers of steel fences and cold hoarding. Not only is the shelter of the homeless being blocked, even more so are the government’s care and compassion for them.
Whereas in Taiwan, it is common for homeless people to face the ostracism from local citizens and being told to leave the street by the police. Yet Taipei City Government view homelessness in a more caring manner. Homeless people are allowed to place their belongings into large canvas bags provided by the Department of Social Welfare, all these bags will then be gathered in designated areas and safeguard by their staffs. They do not have to worry that their belongings may get stolen while leaving for work, and at the same time the tidiness of public spaces can be maintained.
There is nowhere called home. The only way is to sleep around.
In recent years, the number of people living in fast food shops, cyber cafes and even cheap hostels has increased day by day. Without a place to lay their heads, the homeless carried with them all their clothing and daily necessities. There is a saying that “to shoulder the responsibility of a household is a tough job”. It is even tougher to carry their home on their back, rain or shine. The stumbling back of a homeless is disappointing.
A Fictional Home
What we have long perceived as a home is one with walls to protect people from within. However, without a rent control, the financially insecure homeless, in the face of high rents, can only afford to live in poor conditions in both Hong Kong and Taiwan. Undoubtedly, there are walls at their home. But the walls come with stuffy rooms, bad ventilation, piercing noises as well as sufferings from lice, bugs and mice. Sitting up straight is not even an option, let alone a single bathroom or a kitchen.
The homeless believe that they can put on their pajamas and have a restful sleep after moving away from the street. Yet, what creep in are more challenges and the vicious cycle of sleeping around.
The homeless, a depiction of living.
The identity as a homeless aside, there are multiple aspects of their lives that have not been discovered. In Hong Kong, Some were the Teresa Teng (a famous Chinese singer) of Yau Ma Tei who still enjoy singing a lot, some have been the favourite bar attendants of their bosses, some were serving the locals well on an island, some are football coaches, influencing others’ lives and their own through the popular sports.
In Taiwan, some were projectionist, some are carpenter, some are ‘Big Issue’ seller, some are working in parade formation at temple fair, some are Homeless tour guide of Hidden Taipei, introducing the life of homelessness to the public. The heyday for them might have passed.
The heyday for them might be now. Everyone has got their heyday.