A community of illegal dwellers living in an underground slum was recently discovered beneath a high-end apartment block in Beijing.
Residents of the apartment units in Julong Gardens were shocked to discover that around 400 people had taken shelter in the basement of the residential/commercial building.
The structure was among the first high-end residential developments in the Chinese capital. According to the Straits Times, the basement, which was supposed to be the building’s emergency air-raid shelter, was turned into cheap and cramped rooms for rent. Residents began to grow suspicious of the increasing number of unfamiliar faces going in and out of the building.
Upon investigation, it was discovered that hundreds of people had been living in tiny rooms with no windows. Around 36 beds were found to be installed in the tiny shared rooms. There were also designated facilities for cooking and even a room for smoking.
The basement dwellers reportedly paid around 1,300 yuan ($190) per month for each room, a tenth of what a regular high-rise tenant would pay monthly for a unit.
Since the building owners already denied being involved with the basement mini-housing complex, it is not immediately known who has been making money off the arrangement.
Initial investigations revealed that the basement is owned by Dongcheng District Civil Defence Bureau, which is a government entity. It was not mentioned, however, whether the property has been subleased to others.
Underground rentals such as the one in Julong Gardens have recently become popular among poor immigrants and have been the subject of a crackdown by Beijing authorities.