McRefugees’: McDonald’s Shelters Hong Kong’s Homeless

Hong Kong's homeless find clean, safe and free overnight sanctuary at 24-hour McDonald's branches across the city.

. A sign of a 24-hour McDonald's branch shines on the early morning of Nov. 12 in Hong Kong.

A recent death of a woman at a Hong Kong McDonald's, where her body lay slumped at a table unnoticed for hours, has focused attention on the city's working poor and homeless people who spend their nights at the fast food outlet's 24-hour branches.

Vincent Yu / AP

. A man surrounded by McDonald's cups sleeps with his belongings at night on Oct. 29.

Vincent Yu / AP

. A man sleeps on benches under an advertisement on Nov. 11.

A large number of homeless people sleeping on the street has long been a problem in Hong Kong mainly due to the city's high rents and soaring property prices.

Tyrone Siu / Reuters

. Two men sleep at tables on the night of Nov. 10.

In recent years, the opening of McDonald's 24-hour fast food restaurants all over Hong Kong have become popular alternatives for homeless people known as 'McRefugees' or 'McSleepers' to spend the night in a safer and more comfortable way than on the street.

Vincent Yu / AP

. A group of people sleep at night on Oct. 29.

In a statement, McDonald's Hong Kong said "we welcome all walks of life to visit our restaurants any time."

Vincent Yu / AP

. A man sleeps with his belongings on Nov. 9.

The phenomenon dates back to at least 2007 and has also been documented in Japan and mainland China. It appears to be particularly popular in Hong Kong, notorious for being one of the world's most expensive places to live.

Vincent Yu / AP

. A group of people sleep on Oct. 30.

Vincent Yu / AP

. Empty containers sit on a table as two people sleep on Oct. 29.

Homelessness is a growing problem, with the number of street sleepers tracked by the government rising to 806 this year, more than double the amount since 2007, though social welfare groups say the actual number is likely higher.

Vincent Yu / AP

. Two men sleep with their belongings on Oct. 29.

Vincent Yu / AP