MP Carrie Tan’s views on Ministry of National Development’s Committee of Supply Debate 2022
There are 3 main communities of people who need stable places to stay as they are being rehabilitated. They include 1) perpetrators of family violence, 2) Single mothers and their children and 3) Persons in recovery from mental health conditions discharged from IMH, whose families are unable to care for them before their conditions fully stabilise. In addition to these 3 communities, low-income families climbing out of poverty need more housing stability to build up their financial safety nets.
I urge MND to cater more space in our land planning for restoration and rehabilitative care for those who require support and stabilisation before they can fully return and reintegrate into society. I also urge the Ministry to implement an automatic 12-month grace period before adjusting rent in public rental flats.
The MSF task force found that some family violence perpetrators could not find alternative accommodation, even though the court ordered them to stay away from their victims. We need to find them places to stay so that the other parent can stay in their original residence with their children, and not worry about not having shelter.
Single mothers in shelters face massive anxiety from being told that they can only stay for 6 months. Shelters use this approach to ensure adequate capacity for others who need the space.
During my years at Daughters Of Tomorrow, we collaborated with AWARE’s S.H.E. Project, which provides 2 years of communal housing for 2 to 3 low-income single mothers and their children. Its initial results show that mothers who were given longer-term stability to re-build their lives were better able to regain their confidence and capacity, and build a path towards financial independence. In this time, they provided peer support to each other, and pooled resources for domestic and childcare needs, which greatly helped them retain their jobs and build up their financial resources. This model is already being applied in the US and Japan. We can study their experiences to create a model that works for Singapore’s context.
Persons in recovery from mental health conditions can also benefit from having transitionary accommodation, with support from social agencies that assist them to regain their confidence and functionality. I am aware that IMH is very stretched for resources and staff. Supplementing the mental health recovery landscape with community premises and personnel can help to distribute the load and enhance the care.
Defunct school buildings or other state buildings could be refurbished and repurposed to provide residential premises hand-in-hand with upliftment programs, managed by social service agencies. Such projects could offer better support for those on our society’s margins.
Lastly, I would like to urge MND to implement an automatic 12-month grace period before adjusting rent in public rental flats.