SINGAPORE - A recent video of a man living at a refuse collection centre here has sparked plenty of reaction online, prompting the Housing Board and an MP to step in to quell speculation about his situation.
HDB said the man had been offered a rental flat but turned it down. According to Holland-Bukit Timah GRC MP Christopher de Souza, this was because he did not want to share the flat with another Singaporean.
The two-minute video posted on Facebook group All Singapore Stuff on Thursday (Oct 18) shows an allegedly homeless man sharing about his plight and his living area at the bin centre in Ghim Moh. The video has received almost 60,000 views and more than 700 shares and 400 comments as of 11am on Saturday.
The middle-aged man, who is not identified in the video but says he is Singaporean, claims to have applied for an HDB rental flat with the help of his MP.
However, he says in the video: "HDB don't want to give me house (sic)."
He then adds that he has been homeless for about two years and is a cleaner working at the bin centre. He also says he has just returned from Indonesia and is suffering from health problems.
The man's living area, a room inside the bin centre, is also seen on camera. It is a small and cluttered space with a bed and his belongings.
According to the Facebook group, the video is taken by a Mr Lim who said he is a "neighbour" of the man.
HDB and Mr de Souza sought to clarify the situation on Friday evening on their Facebook pages, with both identifying the man as only "Mr R".
HDB said the man first applied for a rental flat last year and it had been prepared to help him even though he did not meet the criteria as his wife and children are not Singaporean.
"However, he did not proceed with the application," said the authority.
HDB added that it contacted Mr R last month again to offer a flat rental under the Joint Singles Scheme, after Mr de Souza made an appeal for him. But Mr R said he would submit another rental application with a family member instead, the statutory board said.
Mr de Souza said in his post that Mr R "did not accept the offer because he did not want to share the flat with another Singaporean".
"I have met Mr R several times in the past few weeks," said Mr de Souza, adding that "the video does not tell the whole story".
Mr de Souza also said that Mr R's application for financial assistance is being processed and he has received grocery vouchers.
"I also spoke with the town council to keep him employed so that he can have a steady income," wrote Mr de Souza.
HDB said that Mr R will be moving into an interim rental flat next week while he "reviews his housing options for the longer term".
"We seek the public's understanding not to speculate on Mr R's circumstances," said HDB.
Mr de Souza wrote in his post: "Often, it is so easy to post a video, create negative sentiments and not provide a full picture. It is much harder to work quietly behind the scenes, towards the goal of improving our fellow residents' lives."