There are people with jobs who sleep on the streets of Singapore – here’s why

180 were found sleeping in public areas over a five hour period
Straits Times

They are often hidden from sight, but you can still find people sleeping in public places in Singapore.

Some 100 volunteers found 180 people sleeping outdoors across 25 locations in Singapore, over a short five-hour period in March, reported the Straits Times.

And that is no small number.

“You would think that if people were sleeping outside, if these were the numbers, and if it has been happening for so long, we would have noticed. I think it reminds us how invisible they often are,” said Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy Professor Ng Kok Hoe.

A recent study by volunteer welfare organisation Montfort Care and volunteer group SW101 surveyed the 180 individuals sleeping in public spaces, and got responses from 84 of them.

It is said to be the first of its kind done here.

61% of those who responded were aged 50 or older, and 88% of them were men.

But don’t just dismiss them as “bums” or people who are not interested in getting a “real income”.

Surprisingly, almost 60% of those who responded held full-time jobs, while 27% had a HDB flat their name with the majority being rental flats.

Perhaps, “homeless stereotypes” really aren’t all that accurate.

However, most of them who held jobs were cleaners or security guards – jobs that are not known to be financially rewarding in Singapore.

And as for those who have a flat under their name, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) explained to ST that some choose to sleep in public spaces due to family disputes or proximity to their workplace for shift workers.

Prof Ng’s team also realised that none of those sleeping in public areas sought help from shelters, and less than 20% had sought help from their families, friends or authorities.

But Prof Ng believes that increasing public awareness on the issues that the homeless face is pivotal in making a positive change within the homeless community.

He said: “When the public is not aware of the problem, our society cannot begin to address it properly.”

According to ST, 57% of 242 social workers polled in a survey are willing to pay more in taxes to fund more government spending to help the poor.

Those are definitely promising odds.