KUCHING: Sarawak plans to set up three more homeless transit centres in urban areas this year after the first one was successfully opened in Sibu.
State Women, Childhood and Community Wellbeing Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said the Sarawak government had approved an allocation of RM7mil under the 12th Malaysia Plan for the three new centres located in Kuching, Miri and Bintulu.
The centres in Kuching and Miri were expected to be ready this November while the Bintulu centre, which would have a community social support centre adjacent to it, was scheduled to be completed in May 2025.
"The objective of the transit centre is to provide temporary shelter for the homeless as well as social enterprise activities to equip them with skills so that they can stand on their own feet.
"That will be the exit point for them from the transit centre," Fatimah told a press conference after chairing the Sarawak homeless management committee meeting at Wisma Bapa Malaysia here on Tuesday (Feb 7).
She said the transit centre in Sibu, which began operating in December 2021, had shown results in its social enterprise, with one of its homeless individuals now teaching others to make baskets for sale.
"We will embark on more of these projects to enable our homeless to earn an income and be independent.
"Our goal is to work towards inclusive and sustainable wellbeing for a dignified existence for the homeless," she said.
Based on the model in Sibu, Fatimah said an anchor non-governmental organisation (NGO) would be identified to manage each of the new transit centres, while an advisory committee would monitor their operations.
"We will hold engagement sessions to come up with guidelines to run the centres and train the staff to handle mental health issues among the homeless," she said.
Fatimah also said 89 homeless individuals were identified in the state last year, a drop compared to 174 in 2021 and 237 in 2020.
Of last year's total, 42 were identified in Kuching, 25 in Sibu, seven in Bintulu, eight in Miri and three each in Sarikei and Samarahan.