Changi Airport praised for allowing homeless to take shelter in lounge

Most of the homeless were men in their 50s and 60s.

Matthias Ang | September 21, 2020, 04:37 PM

A Singaporean activist, who runs a non-governmental organisation counselling unemployed Singaporeans, Gilbert Goh, thanked Changi Airport allowing homeless people to shelter at one of its lounges.

On Sep. 15, Goh put up a Facebook post, highlighting that he saw at least 15 homeless people sleeping in an upright position within a lounge at the airport during a distribution of blankets and sleeping bags on Sep. 14.

He wrote:

"I just want to take this opportunity to thank the airport management for their compassion in allowing them to rest at the lounge - it speaks volumes of their love and commitment towards a more caring society."

Most are men in their fifties and sixties

Goh further noted that men in their fifties and sixties made up most of the crowd, although a few women were spotted as well.

One "elderly uncle" was also spotted lying on the lounge floor.

Goh added that he believed several of the people held day jobs but could not secure their own housing for the time being.

Airport's hygiene and safety makes it a "haven" for the homeless

Goh further stated that the comfort, safety and absence of cost staying over at the airport made it a "haven" for the homeless, particularly for women.

As per Goh:

"The airport is always a haven for the homeless community due to its clean hygiene environment and more so for its safety factor. For those homeless folks who are female in gender, the airport must be the first choice on their mind when it comes to a free public shelter option."

Here is his Facebook post in full:

People have taken refuge at the airport before

This is not the first documented instance of people taking refuge at Changi Airport while homeless.

In 2017, a woman was reported to have lived at Changi Airport for eight years since the 2008 financial crisis, The Straits Times reported.

At that time, Changi Airport Group (CAG) stated that its staff will urge such people to not seek shelter at the airport when it spots them.

CAG added that it will also work with the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) and the Family Services Centre to "find the best way to help them".

Mothership has reached out to CAG for further information on the matter.

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Top image collage from Gilbert Goh Facebook and Instagram