Mr Muhammad Faisal Abdul Manap
To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development
(a) of the more than 900 homeless individuals and families displaced between 2013 and 2015, what are the longest, shortest and average periods of displacement encountered by them;
(b) what percentage of these homeless cases has been the outcome of unsuccessful applications for a HDB rental flat; and
(c) what are some of the measures that the Ministry has with HDB to flag out potential displacement and homeless cases at the point of application for a rental flat.
Mdm Speaker, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) provided support and shelter to 543 homeless individuals and 374 homeless families between 2013 and 2015. Some of them had sold their flat due to debt or divorce, or could not continue staying with their families because of strained relationships or behavioural issues. They would often first approach close relatives or friends to take them in or rent from the open market, intermittently for a few days or up to several months.
Of these cases assisted by MSF, about half applied for a rental flat, of which about half were successful. 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 could be existing owners of a flat. HDB, MSF and social service agencies would work together to assist these individuals and families to explore alternative housing options.
HDB recognises that families with young children and elderly dependants may have greater needs. HDB 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.
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. Families which are facing mortgage arrears, for example, may receive a combination of financial help, emotional support, and guidance.
MSF 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.