Singapore—A Dec 3 report in the (ST) stated that the temporary shelters around the country are now mostly at maximum capacity. It added that about 100 homeless people are waitlisted for accommodation, which can partly be attributed to the economic fallout of the pandemic.

The temporary shelters are known as Safe Sound Sleeping Places (S3Ps), which seek to give short-term refuge to those in need. They’re managed by religions and community groups and are usually found on the premises of these groups.

But because the demand has increased and the actual number of temporary shelters has decreased, some homeless people are left without recourse.

Last year, a study by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy found that there are one thousand homeless people in Singapore. The highest number of homeless is found in the city proper, and in Bedok and Kallang districts.

This year, after the Covid-19 pandemic began and during the time Singapore was placed under the Circuit Breaker, restrictions were placed on non-essential services. This meant that more people who had been sleeping rough were looking for shelter. Void decks and the other places where they could usually sleep were no longer accessible.

The ST quotes a spokesman from the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) as saying, “The economic downturn has also contributed to the number of homeless individuals, who may face the loss of jobs and may no longer be able to afford open market rental rates, as well as tensions between families or co-tenants.”

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According to the charity Homeless Hearts of Singapore, some people have become homeless because of the lack of opportunity to go back and forth from Johor Baru or Batam, as travel has become restricted as well.

The MSF spokesman added, “S3Ps are temporary interim accommodation run by community partners who have availed their premises, mostly in religious premises, to provide overnight stay for rough sleepers out of goodwill,”

And while there were more than forty S3Ps during the Circuit Breaker, only 21 remain as the others have resumed their daily activities.

These 21 S3Ps can house 560 people, but most of the available slots are filled. In mid-November, around 100 people were waitlisted for slots. The remaining available spaces are already slated for those whose admission is pending.

Over 800 homeless and rough sleepers have been receiving support since April from the Partners Engaging and Empowering Rough Sleepers (Peers) network, social service agencies, other community partners, and the MSF, ST added. —/TISG

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Read also: Homeless in the time of Covid-19

One thousand people homeless in Singapore, study shows