145 homeless people saved, placed at temporary shelters during MCO – Fatimah

Fatimah checks on a homeless man at Song Kheng Hai Hawker Centre in Kuching. – File photo

KUCHING (Nov 9): A total of 145 homeless people were saved and placed at various temporary shelters provided by the government during the Movement Control Order (MCO) between March 18 and May 31, said Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah.

The Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister said these people were also provided with subsistence such as food, portable tents, hygiene kits and sleeping bags.

Noting that homelessness is one of the social issues that is given focus by her ministry, Fatimah said together with the ministry’s strategic partners, they have conducted various operations to locate and save the homeless during the MCO.

She said various initiatives would be implemented as long term measures to mitigate this issue.

“One good example is the setting up of Safe Haven for the homeless [Tempat Selamat Gelandangan (TSG)], starting with a pilot project in Sibu with an approved allocation of RM793,623,” she said when answering a question from Irene Mary Chang Oi Ling (PH–Bukit Assek)

On the number of homeless by Division and District in Sarawak saved during the MCO, she said Miri has the most with 42, followed by Bintulu (27), Kuching (23), Sibu (17), Sri Aman (12), Limbang (6), Kapit 3 while other divisions and districts has either two or three.

She said the Rumah Majlis Kebajikan dan Sukan Anggota-Anggota Kerajaan Malaysia (Maksak) Sibu Division, Jalan Sanyan, would be renovated and converted to Safe Haven/TSG Sibu.

She said its function would be to provide temporary transit for the homeless to sleep and free meals at night time; to provide screening services for physical, mental and emotional health, including testing for drugs and substances abuse; and to provide referral assistance to relevant agencies.

“As of today, the layout plan and design of this TSG has been finalised and endorsed by the ministry.

“The project is in the process of tendering by Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) as the implementing agency,” she said.

Fatimah said the non-government organisation (NGO) appointed to operate Safe Haven/TSG Sibu was Persatuan Amal Shan Xin Malaysia (Sibu Branch).

She noted other measures taken to address issue of homelessness included the profiling of the homeless.

She said since 2016 until October this year, the ministry together with Welfare Department and strategic partners have conducted 153 operations to locate and save the homeless.

“From the profiling, a total of 475 homeless were identified. Reasons for homelessness are family problems (62 cases, 38 per cent), no place to stay (29 cases, 18 per cent), alcohol addiction (19 cases, 12 per cent), loss of jobs (17 cases, 10 per cent), mental problem (16 cases, 10 per cent) and others (19 cases, 12 per cent),” she said.

She said her ministry would establish the Borneo Best Support Center (BBSC) here to provide various social support services including temporary shelter for the homeless.

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Source: https://www.theborneopost.com/2020/11/09/145-homeless-people-saved-placed-at-temporary-shelters-during-mco-fatimah/