Mock-up HDB flat a step to real home

Acacia Home's new building comprises space - featuring a shared bedroom and kitchen - that serves as a "training ground" for the residents to prepare themselves for living in the community again.
Acacia Home's new building comprises space - featuring a shared bedroom and kitchen - that serves as a "training ground" for the residents to prepare themselves for living in the community again.ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

Although it is only a mock-up of an HDB flat, for some elderly men, it is a step nearer a real home.

The space - featuring a shared bedroom and kitchen - is a "training ground" for residents of Acacia Home to prepare themselves for living in the community again.

Even though it has been operating at its Admiralty Street site since 2016, Acacia Home's new building was officially opened by the Minister for Social and Family Development, Mr Desmond Lee, yesterday.

If found suitable, residents of the 250-capacity facility - run by voluntary welfare organisation Sathya Sai Social Services (4S) - can apply for a public rental flat under the Joint Singles Scheme which caters to poor and needy singles lacking housing options and family support. The mock HDB flat allows them to get used to sharing a living space with another person.

"The right environment is important for the successful rehabilitation of residents," said Mr Lee.

Acacia Home is one of the 12 welfare homes overseen and funded by the MSF - four of which are run by 4S. It features user-friendly features like gentle sloping ramps connecting its seven storeys.

The MSF faces about 300 homeless cases each year. About half of the residents are required to reside in welfare homes under the Destitute Persons Act, as they were assessed by authorities to have no place to stay, no family support, or are not able to support or care for themselves.

At the end of last year, there were 1,823 destitute people residing in welfare homes - slightly down on the previous five years.

Residents undergo rehabilitation schemes which impart social, work and life skills. Those assessed to have high potential for reintegration are placed on external employment schemes like day release, home leave and pre-discharge programmes.

Acacia Home, which currently has 110 residents, was set up in 2012 and initially based at the Kaki Bukit Centre. In its time, it has helped seven men find sustained employment as cleaners and at least five to find homes in rented HDB flats.

Latest MSF figures show 27 destitute people were readmitted to welfare homes in 2016, while 163 people were discharged. Some go on to independent living, or reside with family or friends. Others move to residential care facilities.


Correction note: This story was edited for clarity.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 18, 2018, with the headline 'Mock-up HDB flat a step to real home'. Print Edition | Subscribe