Seeking Shelter: Homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic in Singapore

“Seeking Shelter: Homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic in Singapore”

“Seeking Shelter: Homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic in Singapore” is the country’s second nationwide street count of its unhoused and homeless, conducted in 2021. With its authors Dr. Ng Kok Hoe and Jeyda Simren Sekhon Atac, we begin by reviewing the first street count and report in 2019. Thereafter, we dive deeper into their most recent report, to understand the state of homelessness during COVID-19, explore the role of social policy, and discuss volunteer engagement and ethical priorities.

COVID-19, over 716 days later (Photo by Ng Shi Wen)

COVID-19, over 716 days later: Confronting Singapore’s long-term, pandemic-linked social challenges

So much ink has been spilled on Singapore’s healthcare and public health response to the ongoing pandemic. Yet, there will be an end to COVID-19, and the start of 2022 feels like a good time to shift some of the public focus to our country’s long-term, pandemic-linked social challenges. In this short episode, I summarise the most urgent and obvious problems – migrant, healthcare, and economically disadvantaged essential workers – before detailing four challenges which have received less attention: First, the harm to children, adolescents, and youths; second, compounded socio-economic inequality; third, social isolation; and fourth, ambiguous loss and unresolved grief.

A construction site in Singapore

On homelessness and housing insecurity, income insecurity and minimum income standard, and bridging research, practice, and policy: Dr. Ng Kok Hoe

In 2019, Dr. Ng Kok Hoe was part of two important studies in Singapore. First, he led the first nationwide street count of homelessness in the country, and second, he was part of the Minimum Income Standard or MIS study, which in a participatory manner determined the household budgets necessary to meet the basic needs of ordinary Singaporeans. Starting with a discussion of his research interests in housing and income insecurity, we hear more about these two studies and the bridging of research, practice, and policy with regard to social work and social service.

Hallway of a HDB flat in Singapore

“HDB home buyers don’t want public rental blocks in vicinity”: The challenge of research methodology and social integration in Singapore

Although the journal article was ostensibly focused on Singaporean perceptions of the Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP) – and how this housing policy may influence the decisions of home-owners when choosing a flat – the ST article zoomed in on the preferences of home-owners to not live close to HDB public rental blocks (ST, Mar. 22). It cited the lead researcher, Associate Professor Leong Chan-Hoong of the Singapore University of Social Sciences, who concluded: “After price and location, proximity to public rental flats would be the variable that discourages a person from buying a unit”.

Graduation at Marina Barrage

““Getting ahead in Singapore”: How neighbourhoods, gender, and ethnicity affect enrolment into elite schools”: Using JC yearbooks as data

Given the challenges associated with obtaining complete data of the socio-economic diversity of Singapore’s top schools, Chua et al.’s (2019) research strategy of using 40 years of junior college (JC) yearbooks (1971 to 2010) as data – to study the influence of neighbourhoods, gender, and ethnicity on elite school enrolment – is therefore a very interesting workaround.