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HDB disputes claim that public agencies did not offer help to 70-year-old homeless man who sleeps at Henderson Hawker Centre

HDB asserted: "It is untrue that they were denied a rental flat because they had to wait a 10-year period from the sale of the flat. There is no such policy in place."

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The Housing Development Board (HDB) has disputed an ex-opposition party member’s claim that public agencies did not offer help to a 70-year-old Singaporean who was left homeless after being released from prison.

Former People’s Voice party member Brad Bowyer made this claim as he shared the plight of the homeless man, Mr Lim Kee Khoon, who sleeps at Henderson Hawker Centre, in a Facebook post on Wednesday (20 Mar). Bowyer announced his departure from the party today.

Bowyer said that Mr Lim is uncomfortable living with strangers due to a past experience when he was forced to share a rental flat with a partially-disabled senior citizen and ended up unwillingly becoming the housemate’s caregiver. At 63, Mr Lim committed a crime and was sentenced to jail. He was recently released from prison at the age of 70 but has nowhere to go and nowhere to stay, according to Bowyer.

The opposition party member added that Mr Lim wishes to live with his brother but cannot do so as his brother sold his flat eight years ago. Citing an unspecified “HDB rule,” Bowyer said that the siblings must wait ten years before they are eligible to rent a flat together.

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Bowyer, who used to be a PAP member involved in grassroots activities, further alleged that Tanjong Pagar MP Joan Pereira and her grassroots team are aware of the elderly man’s situation but it appears “there is seemingly nothing she can do about it”. He wrote:

“His MP Joan Pereira knows of his case, her activists on the ground know of his case, the HDB knows of his case as do the Kreta Ayer Social Services centre and have done so for nearly a month yet still every night he falls asleep beside the market to rest as best he can while being bitten my mosquitoes and suffering the current heatwave.
“From what he described everyone keeps quoting rules of why this or that can’t happen, there is nothing they can do or bouncing him from person to person and MP to agency while nothing is being done. It seems adhering rigidly to a system is more important than a member of the Pioneer generations urgent need, and the lack of humanity and basic care is staggering.
“I know Joan Pereira personally from my time with Tanjong Pagar GRC, she is a kind and caring person, and yet this is happening in her ward and there is seemingly nothing she can do about it?”

In a Facebook post on Wednesday (27 Mar) evening, HDB disputed Bowyer’s claims that public agencies have not offered help to Mr Lim despite being aware of his case.

HDB, which is a statutory board under the Ministry of National Development, said that its officers and the MSF Singapore’s Social Service Office (SSO) at Kreta Ayer have been in touch with Mr Lim since January this year and that MP Joan Pereira made appeals to HDB on behalf of HDB regarding his rental application well before Bowyer’s Facebook post.

Revealing that HDB has offered a rental flat for Mr Lim and his brother and that Mr Lim has been placed in a shelter as he waits to shift into the rental flat, HDB asserted: “It is untrue that they were denied a rental flat because they had to wait a 10-year period from the sale of the flat. There is no such policy in place.”

HDB added that Mr Lim previously declined his SSO officer’s offers to help him but has recently agreed to the officer’s help. The SSO is processing Mr Lim’s ComCare application, which would give him a monthly cash allowance and medical assistance at public health institutions, on top of the Silver Support pay-outs he is currently receiving.

Read HDB’s statement in full here:

https://www.facebook.com/SingaporeHDB/posts/2681321018561434

In case you cannot read the above:

“There is a FB post circulating since 20 March about a man, Mr Lim, who has been sleeping at Bukit Merah View Market because he has no accommodation. The post alleges that various public agencies have not offered him any help despite being aware of his situation. This is untrue.

“HDB and MSF Singapore’s Social Service Office (SSO) at Kreta Ayer have been in touch with Mr Lim since Jan 2019 to understand his situation. We also received appeals made by MP Joan Pereira on 1 and 19 March on the behalf of Mr Lim for his rental application. HDB has been advising Mr Lim on his housing options since he applied for a rental flat with his brother. HDB had assessed then that Mr Lim’s brother could buy a 2-room Flexi flat using the significant cash and CPF proceeds from the sale of his previous flat, and may not require a rental flat. It is untrue that they were denied a rental flat because they had to wait a 10-year period from the sale of the flat. There is no such policy in place.

“The Lim brothers subsequently revealed that they no longer have the financial means to buy a flat. They recently explained to HDB how the proceeds from the sale of the flat were spent, and also informed HDB of their medical conditions. In light of this new information, HDB has offered them a rental flat and is processing their documents.

“Mr Lim has also recently agreed to get help from his SSO officer, after previously declining the SSO’s offers on several occasions for him to be placed in temporary accommodation. Mr Lim has since been admitted into a shelter, as he awaits to shift into a rental flat with his brother.

“Mr Lim has also recently furnished the necessary information for the SSO to process his ComCare application. Mr Lim will receive monthly cash allowance and medical assistance at public health institutions, which would supplement the Silver Support pay-outs he is currently receiving. Kreta Ayer Family Services will continue to provide the necessary social support.

“Building an inclusive and caring society is a collective effort. If you come across individuals or families who require support, you can play a part to help by calling the ComCare hotline at 1800-222-0000, or approaching the nearest Social Service Office or Family Service Centre.”

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