Singapore has become the first country in Southeast Asia to have its national homeless shelter open up for the first time in its history.
The Shelter for Singapore (SFS), which opened in Singapore’s south-east on Monday, is a joint venture between the SFS, the Singapore government and local homeless organizations.
It is part of the Singapore Government’s strategy to end the country’s homelessness crisis, which is estimated to be more than two million people.
The SFS said in a statement that it was “surprised and disappointed” to learn that the building had been given to a private company, but the SESO, which runs the shelter, said it had no intention of turning it into a business.
“We are confident that the SLS [Singapore City and Region Office] has done the right thing by ensuring that the shelter will be managed by a local community,” said a SFS spokesperson.
“We will be looking at all options for the future of the shelter.”
The SLS said it is “actively working to improve the quality and safety of the space” as it works with “an international partner” to “improve the living conditions”.
“We understand the impact the building has on Singapore’s homeless community and we will work with all stakeholders, including the SPS, to ensure that the Shelter for SFS is managed by an inclusive, safe and sustainable community.”
A SFS spokesman said the company would not comment on the outcome of the SDS inquiry.
The company, which was created in September 2014, operates out of the city’s South East Asian Community Centre.
The shelter opened with a capacity of 5,000 people and provides 24-hour emergency accommodation, food, and other support services.SFS spokesman Lai Seng Shan told The Straits Times that the company was working with the SSS and the Singapore Police to find a suitable developer for the building.
“There are currently no other suitable sites for the SFP building, and it is difficult to find one as it is currently a private facility,” he said.
“The SPS has been monitoring the development of the building over the past three months and has expressed interest in developing a community-based service to provide food and services for the residents, who have access to a range of different services.”
The building, which has been on the market for three years, is currently empty.
The new shelter will cost about S$3 million ($1.2 million).