Hongkou tenants moved out of emergency shelters

The district has restored 98 underground shelters beneath old residential buildings by relocating former tenants who were using them.
Ti Gong

An underground shelter beneath a residential building is converted into a sitting room by a subtenant in Hongkou District. Residents living on higher levels have long complained about security concerns of using shelters as living spaces.

Tenants from nearly 100 old bomb shelters in the basements of downtown residential buildings have been moved out.

The program launched by Hongkou District government also aims to make sure the shelters are still in good condition and can still be used in emergency.

Officials said residents living on higher levels have long complained about security concerns, pollution and noise resulting from the shelters being sublet and used as living spaces.

The 98 underground shelters in Hongkou, once an indispensable facility for residential buildings built in the 1960s and 1970s, have been closed temporarily.

They will be turned into public spaces, such as community activity centers, the district’s civil defense office said on Monday.

Most of the shelters were rented to companies as storage spaces decades ago and some of them were later sublet to migrant residents, the government said.

Ti Gong

A basement shelter that became a messy storage room in a Hongkou residential community, posing a fire risk.

Residents have complained for years about being disturbed by how the underground space in their buildings was being misused.

The district government launched a survey on the number and conditions of these shelters from early this year and found the 98 sites covering a total of just over 45,000 square meters.

“Since the several underground shelters were closed, the whole neighborhood became quieter,” said Wang Zhiqiang, a resident living in the No. 4 Lane Changzhong Road community.

The law enforcement officers firstly issued a relocation notice to those who owned or lived in the shelters. Contracts were then signed with the tenants to move out, one of the officers said.

“The authority also provided warehouse space for some of the tenants to store their stocks after moving out from the shelters,” he added.

Ti Gong

An official with the Hongkou District Civil Defence Office posts a notice to the tenant of an underground shelter to move out.

The district government will issue regulations on how the revamped spaces will be used and supervised to ensure the shelters are kept in good condition, the official said.

Most of the underground shelters were built after Chairman Mao Zedong's urging to "dig deep and store grain" as well as a defense against potential foreign invaders.

Shanghai has a total of over 700,000 square meters of abandoned bomb shelters honeycombed across the city, according to statistics.

Downtown Huangpu has found 582 abandoned civil defense shelters covering 100,000 square meters, or a seventh of the city's total.

The district government is filling up some of them, while the better preserved shelters are being converted into activity centers, cafes and wine cellars.

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