Forum: Small number of homeless people means problem can be tackled

Western societies have given up solving the problem of homelessness. Acceptance of sleeping rough on the streets as part and parcel of urban life has fuelled the call for public spaces to be homeless-friendly. Singapore must not echo the call and go down the same path (Bars, dividers make spaces less welcome to homeless: Observers, Nov 30).

Singapore's resources and relatively small population of homeless people mean Singaporeans can, together, tackle this problem.

About 800 homeless families and individuals are already housed in shelters built by the Government and community partners, according to data in July. A nationwide study last year led by Assistant Professor Ng Kok Hoe from the National University of Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy found 1,050 people sleeping rough on the streets.

This is not a large number of people on whom we should give up and accept as the norm. We have the resources to help them in ways that best meet their long-term interests.

Last year's study also found that some among the homeless had homes they did not want to return to. Expertise in social work is needed to mediate between the parties involved, but those who unreasonably reject compromises cannot expect society to make public spaces welcoming to them.

Cheng Shoong Tat