Homeless seeking rental flat: Half of applicants successful, says MSF

Those who were unsuccessful had other housing options, such as owning or being able to afford a flat, or having family support, said Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim.

  • Posted 01 Mar 2016 15:45

SINGAPORE: The Ministry for Social and Family Development (MSF) provided support and shelter to 543 homeless individuals and 374 homeless families between 2013 and 2015, Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim told Parliament on Tuesday (Mar 1).

Of these, some sold their flat due to debt or divorce, or could not continue staying with their families because of strained relationships or behavioural issues, he noted. Many first approach close relatives or friends to take them in, or rent from the open market, for a few days or up to several months.

Of the cases assisted by MSF, about half applied for a rental flat, of which about half were successful, he told Parliament.

Those who were unsuccessful mostly had other housing options when they applied, such as being able to afford a flat or having family support. Some already owned a flat. MSF, the Housing and Development Board and social service agencies work together to assist these individuals and families to explore alternative housing options, Dr Faishal said.

He added that HDB recognises that families with young children and elderly dependants may have greater needs, and considers their circumstances and exercises flexibility on a case-by-case basis.

“For some families and individuals who have no other place to stay, MSF works with social service agencies to identify temporary shelter options while they find other accommodation. We also address their other needs, which may include counselling, financial assistance, employment and other factors that contribute to their housing instability,” Dr Faishal said.

Government and community agencies such as Social Service Offices, Family Service Centres, and HDB Branches in each town also coordinate identification and support for individuals and families who may be at risk of homelessness, he added. Families which are facing mortgage arrears, for example, may receive a combination of financial help, emotional support, and guidance.

Responding to a question from MP Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap, Dr Faishal said he was unable to give a projection of the homelessness trend over the next five years, but he gave the assurance that the Ministry will “continue to work closely with HDB and community partners to provide assistance to homeless families and individuals and to help them to regain stability”.