Mock-up of HDB flat a 'training ground' for homeless men

Although it is only a mock-up of a Housing Board flat, it is a step nearer a real home for some elderly men.

The space - featuring a shared bedroom and kitchen - is a "training ground" for residents of Acacia Home to prepare themselves for living in the community.

Though it has been operating at its Admiralty Street site since 2016, Acacia Home's new building was officially opened by Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee yesterday.

If suitable, residents of the 250-capacity facility - run by voluntary welfare organisation Sathya Sai Social Services (4S) - can apply for a two-bedroom flat under the Joint Singles Scheme, which caters to poor and needy singles. The mock flat allows them to get used to sharing a living space with another person.

Acacia Home is one of the 12 welfare homes overseen and funded by the MSF.

The MSF faces about 300 homeless cases each year. About half of the residents are required to reside in welfare homes under the Destitute Persons Act, as they were assessed by authorities to have no place to stay, no family support, or are not able to support or care for themselves. 

At the end of last year, there were 1,823 destitute people residing in welfare homes - slightly down on the previous five years.

Residents undergo rehabilitation schemes that impart social, work and life skills. Those assessed to have high potential for reintegration are placed on external employment schemes such as day release and home leave programmes.

Acacia Home, which has 110 residents, was set up in 2012. It has helped seven men find sustained employment as cleaners and at least five find homes in rented HDB flats.