Don’t be heartless about the homeless, note experts

PETALING JAYA: A loving community and strong social support are key, among others, to keeping homeless people remain off the streets, says an expert on poverty.

Research fellow at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Prof Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria said providing housing would only be one of the aspects to the challenging issue.

“A loving community, sense of acceptance and social support are among the keys. Some of these homeless may have mental, health, drug and alcohol problems too.

“Loving care and understanding are important, as well as the role played by social workers. It can’t be solved as an administrative issue,” he said when contacted.

Recently, the government revealed almost 20% of the homeless rescued in Kuala Lumpur ended up back on the streets again.

According to Deputy Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Jalaluddin Alias, there were between 700 and 900 homeless living on the streets of Kuala Lumpur.

He said those rescued were temporarily sheltered free of charge and provided meals at several transit homes in the city.

Kechara Soup Kitchen project coordinator Justin Cheah, who has been dealing with homeless groups for about 14 years, said there was no “single approach” to dealing with the matter.

“These people have diverse backgrounds. Some have mental problems, are in between jobs, do not have a good education, and so on.

“It should be viewed based on a case-to-case basis,” he said.

In one striking case, Cheah said his organisation managed to help a homeless man who needed money to get a new passport to work as a sailor in Pasir Gudang, Johor.

“We managed to renew his passport and after serving quarantine for two weeks, he managed to get work on board the ship.

“We are dealing with humans, so we should not generalise their predicaments,” he said.

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