Singapore's ministry of social and family development (MSF) acknowledged providing shelter to the needy in the recent sitting of the country's Parliament
Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing in an oral reply to a question by member of Parliament for Aljunied Group Representation Constituency Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap recently informed the Parliament, “Between 2011 to 2013, MSF provided support and shelter to 565 individuals and 404 families. About 80% are of low-income and have weak social support.”
“Three out of four were previous flat owners who had sold their flats for a variety of reasons, such as settling financial or debt problems, divorces, cashing out to make a profit, etc. After the sale of their flats, they find themselves not being able to afford to buy or rent another flat. Another one-quarter had fallen out their families and friends whom they were living with, due to reasons such as strained relationships, anti-social behaviour or addiction-related problems.”
Enumerating the assistance his government gives to these individuals and families in exploring “sustainable housing options”, the minister added, “Sometimes, social workers help them to reunite and stay with their family members. For those with no options, the Housing Development Board (HDB) will assist them with rental flats under the Public Rental Scheme. For those who need temporary rental accommodation while they wait for or work out their longer-term housing option, HDB may refer them to interim rental housing.”
Additionally, the government also provides financial assistance and social support to enable the families to regain their independence, Chan said. Importantly, “efforts are taken to ensure the children continue to attend school and that the safety, welfare and interests of vulnerable family members are taken care of”.
Finally, the minister emphasised on the role of cooperation and positive action by such families, and concluded, “Homelessness is a complex problem. We want to provide help to families facing housing issues. But there will be little progress if families are unwilling to work with government officials and social workers to resolve their problems.”
Please click here to read a story, A van called home, published in The New Paper last year, detailing the issue of homelessness in Singapore.