Forum: Network of govt, community help for the homeless

A shelter for the homeless by New Hope Community Services at 51 Margaret Drive. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

We thank Mr Foo Sing Kheng for his feedback (HDB can play bigger role in sheltering the homeless, March 24).

Homelessness is a complex issue with many underlying causes.

The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) partners community groups and government agencies, including the Housing and Development Board, via the Peers (Partners Engaging and Empowering Rough Sleepers) network.

Together, we reach out to, befriend and engage homeless individuals to assess how best to support them based on their needs.

Those who are willing to seek assistance will be referred to the appropriate help agencies, such as Family Service Centres and Social Service Offices.

Some of the homeless individuals may require temporary accommodation while they work out their other issues.

MSF has been working closely with Peers partners to open their premises as Safe Sound Sleeping Places (S3Ps) at night for homeless persons who decline to be referred to formal shelters. S3Ps provide safe overnight stays for homeless persons and rough sleepers, as well as access to timely assistance from government agencies.

Homeless persons can also be referred by partners and agencies to transitional shelters run by Social Service Agencies, with their consent.

Apart from providing shelter, these transitional shelters also have social workers to coordinate support and help homeless persons address their underlying issues and secure long-term stable housing. Depending on their individual circumstances, the HDB may assist them to buy a flat within their means.

For those without any other housing options and family support, the HDB may offer them a public rental flat. Such rental tenants will continue to be supported by Family Service Centres and Social Service Offices, located close to where they live.

Over time, with such social support and assistance, some of these rental tenants move on to buy their own homes.

Lee Kim Hua

Senior Director (Peers Office)

Ministry of Social and Family Development

Foo-Ho Yoke-Ming

Director (Rental Housing)

Housing and Development Board

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 04, 2020, with the headline Forum: Network of govt, community help for the homeless. Subscribe