About 600 households in HCM City living in houses smaller than 20 square metres in Ma Lang Slum are awaiting relocation.
The tiny house of Nguyen Thi Hoang
This particular residential area in Nguyen Cu Trinh Ward, District 1, consists of super tiny houses and has a complicated narrow alleyways network. The only way to get to the main street is by going through Alley 245 on Nguyen Trai Street.
61-year-old Nguyen Thi Hoang lives in a three-square-metre house with her family. Her children had to rent houses outside when they got married. During the day, Hoang sells groceries while taking care of her grandchildren. "It's more like a cave," Hoang said. "We have to be mindful of our legs when sleeping. We had a bit more space after building a mezzanine."
Huong said as the population grew, people found ways to expand their houses and in the end, the alleyways became much smaller and darker.
Many activities held on the alleyway
82-year-old Tran Van Duc lives in a nine-square-metre house but sunlight can't reach the house even at noon. When there is a power outage, he had to eat on the alleyway and run inside because of sudden rain.
"There's a plan to clear this area years ago. We have heard of it for a long time but we don't know when it will be started," he said. "Six out of my seven children have moved out. We are living with my youngest child and grandchildren."
Major Nguyen Hoai Nam, deputy head of the police department in Nguyen Cu Trinh Ward, said in the previous years, the locals' main concern was that their neighbourhood would be taken over by the drug addicts. Now they don't know what will happen to their houses.
According to Nam, the city planned to clear the slum since 2000 but couldn't reach an agreement about compensation with the locals.
"Many people want to move somewhere else but they are not satisfied with the compensation rate," Nam said.