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Friday, September 28, 2012

New centre for homeless

Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) has identified a 2.02ha institutional land to build a new centre for the homeless.

Mayor Datuk Ahmad Phesal Talib said they were keen to assist the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry and Social Welfare Department to resolve the homeless issue in the city.

“The ministry and Social Welfare Department do not have a place to build the centre so it is only right we offer them the land.

“The ministry is very responsive to the idea and we are waiting to hold further discussions.

“The temporary relocation centre for Malaysians will be built by the ministry.

“We notice there are a lot of homeless people with jobs but they don’t want to rent rooms or houses because they want to save money. Hence, they take shelter under bridges.

“On the other hand, there are 13 non-governmental organisations (NGO) carrying out soup kitchen programmes,

“With this centre, we can organise the programmes in one place,” he said.

He added that DBKL would also be working with the Immigration Department to round up foreign vagrants.

Through joint operations with the Social Welfare Department and National Anti-Drug Agency, 312 vagrants, beggars and loiterers were picked up as of August.

The areas covered were Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Masjid Jamek, Jalan Silang, Central Market, Jalan Loke Yew, Jalan Pasar, Sultan Muhammad roundabout as well as areas surrounding Menara Maybank, Mydin Kota Raya, Bank Negara and the National Mosque.

StarMetro has been highlighting the homeless in the city, which is mainly due to the lack of affordable housing, welfare and services.

The city’s bridges, benches, sidewalks, abandoned and dilapidated buildings as well as platforms have become homes to an increasing number of homeless.

According to Social Welfare Department statistics, the number of homeless registered with the department was at 1,387.

At present, Anjung Singgah — a government-run centre — serves as a transit home for the homeless since April. The shelter accommodates up to 76 people, allowing them to stay up to two weeks.

There have been mixed feelings and reviews over the transit home and feed-the-poor programmes by NGOs. Some questioned the effectiveness of the transit home while some are not keen to have soup kitchens as it encourages homeless to continue living on the streets.

By The Star

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