Friday 2 June 2023

Being Homeless in Singapore | Learning more about it

Another great documentary from CNA although I would very much like to have an update on the individuals in a few months or a years time to see how they are. If you are not sure what I am talking about, here is Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

I won’t be going in depth about the individuals mentioned in the documentary and I like what was mentioned in the opening where homelessness in Singapore is viewed as an individual who have done something wrong in his life but it actually is a much more complex issue as you see how the individuals in the documentary became homeless, there are many different situations, some of which was out of their control. And over time, they became homeless.

Homelessness in Singapore

If we were to compare homelessness numbers with other countries or even just neighbouring countries, our numbers are significantly lower and to be honest, really low because we do have numerous organisations that offer help to them especially if they are willing to seek help.

Using Bard from Google, we can do a deep dive into the statistics in Singapore. From a nationwide street count, in 2021, there were about 1,036 homeless people and majority of them are males, about 85% with an average of 52 years old. Some of the most common reasons for homelessness are unemployment, mental illness, and addiction although there are also other numerous reasons why some of them end of being homeless.

Some interesting findings about the homeless population in Singapore are that:

  • The homeless population is concentrated in the central and eastern parts of the country.
  • The majority of the homeless people are single, with no children.
  • The homeless people are often from low-income families.
  • The homeless people are more likely to be unemployed and have mental health problems.

How homelessness feels like

Of course, I am definitely not in a position to talk about how it really feels as I have not experienced homelessness however based on the documentary, I would like to share about how the individual feels and how they usually spend their time.

It’s survival mode for Mr Hamad Bin Shukri as he get his water supply from a public toilet to wash his hands and brush his teeth. Additionally, he buys bottled water from the supermarket for about $5.30 per week. I do take water for granted, having supply straight from my tap and my family do boil water before drinking it so it’s quite different from having to walk a distance to replenish my water supply. He has to wake up early to pack his stuff into the aircon generator room, to charge his phone and to take a bath, he waits till late before using the hawker centre/market toilet to wash up. It’s tough as he has to make use of public facilities which means that he has wait till the cleaner is off work and when there are lesser people around. He also works part-time as a packer in Giant. He also has family members in Indonesia that rely on his income.

The next individual is an 81 year old lady who has been homeless for 3 months. She spends her day walking around and taking a rest when she is tired, she packs bread and water for her to eat as a snack, she would also settle her meals at the coffee shops. She also works part-time to earn some money but generally keeps her expenditure low. There are many more who shared their experience and you can watch to know more.

No one wants to be homeless

Throughout the documentary, we can see the individuals trying their best to obtain a place to call their own but of course each individual do have their own criteria which affects how fast they can get a property.

No one wants to be homeless and having a roof over your head and a place to call home is something that I take for granted as well. I would say that I am privileged in having a roof over my head, a job that pays me enough to spend and a country that is safe and stable. I haven’t experience homelessness but it’s difficult to say that I will not be homeless. Some of the individuals were doing well in life and even had their own property like Mdm Yeo who was doing well but sold her property to get capital to start/sustain her events company. So she rented but as rent and property prices increase over the years, she was unable to afford to buy one.

Everyone has a reason why they became homeless but it is not up to us to judge and I believe that they would like to have a permanent roof over their head. The documentary also shows the tough application process as documents need to be prepared and as people who do not have a permanent place to store their items, some of the documents can be difficult to attain.

Great coverage and it will be nice if there is some follow up on these individuals and how they are after some time. Nice to see topics like these being covered and how we view individuals going through a tough time, how they manage it and how for some of them, none of these is their fault but could be due to lack of planning, surrounding issues or sudden changes that resulted in it.


  1. "No one wants to be homeless". I beg to differ. You never know. I know at least two vloggers making millions of dollars by travelling around the world and sleeping in the wild, aka homelessness at its finest.

    1. These cool kids now have a name, the digital nomads.

    2. Meanwhile, our little cutie Singaporean lady still needs a little cutie Singaporean ah boy to marry so as to be eligible for BTO lmao.

    3. Mr Lee Kuan Yew quoted 孟子 that 有恒产者有恒心,无恒产者无恒心,苟无恒心,放辟邪侈,无不为已。But 孟子 also said that 无恒产而有恒心者,惟士为能。But I'm afraid this is way too beyond A-level Chinese that not many cutie Singaporeans can understand.

    4. Edit: O-level Chinese.