Happy end to sharing lifestyle in Pengsan

New apartment buildings are to be built to replace 11 decrepit ones currently standing in Pengsan.
Zang Ming / The Paper

Pengsan, Jing’an District, is a typical old residential warren where thousands of people, many of them elderly, live in wretched conditions in moldering old buildings.

Zang Ming / The Paper

Pengsan, Jing’an District, is a typical old residential warren where thousands of people, many of them elderly, live in wretched conditions in moldering old buildings.

But all that is finally set to change. New apartment buildings are to be built to replace 11 decrepit ones currently standing in Pengsan, part of Pengpu Xincun.

Residents will be moved out temporarily during demolition and construction and then will move back in to enjoy life in their new, old neighborhood. Nearly 900 families live in about 28,000 square meters and it is one of the city’s bigger urban renewal projects.

The 11 buildings to be pulled down were built in the 1950s and 60s, without elevators and with shared toilets and kitchens. Two or three families shared one kitchen and as many as 10 shared a single toilet, according to the man in charge of the neighborhood renewal, Xu Bingrong.

Some families lived more or less without any natural light. When it rained, people on the top floor had to use umbrellas and those on the ground floor had to use pumps, as their homes were regularly flooded.

Recent years have seen a rising number of disputes and conflicts between residents over trivial matters. As people’s expectations have risen, the squalid conditions and cramped spaces have become a breeding ground for tension.

He Huizhen, 68, has been living in a claustrophobic space for 59 years. She left her one room to her mother-in-law, while she and her husband lived in a jerry-built shelter in the yard. It provided scant shelter from the elements.

Goodbye misery

Now He can finally say goodbye to her miserable life. In three years, her family will move back in and live comfortably with two bedrooms, a kitchen and toilet.

In the interim, residents have to find temporary homes, but with generous subsidies from the government. The elderly will get special help to find places.

It took a year and a half to come up with the renewal plan. More than 10 were drafted, with designs for 27 different units and many meetings with residents. Yesterday, 96 percent of residents signed an agreement and work will soon be under way.

Demolition is set to begin before the end of the year.

Seven apartment buildings of between five and 18 floors are planned. Each will be built with an elevator, terrace and underground garage.

All the apartments will be entirely self-contained — say goodbye to shared toilets and kitchens.

Renewal of Pengpu Xincun started in March 2005.

Some existing apartments were renovated with toilets and kitchens installed in every home.

When there was not enough room in an existing apartment, an additional floor was added.

When buildings were too rundown, they were demolished and new residences built in their place.

So far, nearly 2,000 families have moved into their new homes. When the Pengsan project is complete, work will move on to Pengyi neighborhood, where more than 2,000 families still live in squalor.

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