S'porean man, 82, stays at Sin Ming HDB void deck for 1 year as he feels flat too stuffy

A resident previously threw eggs at the pillar and poured syrup under the bench he slept on.

Daniel Seow | April 21, 2023, 02:38 PM

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An elderly man is currently staying at the void deck of Block 26 Sin Ming Industrial Estate Sector A, which has served as his home for the past year.

Ye Huanzhang (hanyu pinyin), 82, told Shin Min Daily News that he has a unit in that rental block for the last four years.

However, after the fan in his home broke down in mid-2022, he found the space unbearably stuffy and resorted to staying at the void deck instead.

As the block has been selected for a relocation exercise, Ye has been assigned a new rental unit, and estimates that he will be able to move in by the end of May.

Has been homeless before

"Previously, I had my own place," Ye explained.

"But I chose to sell it after I retired and my wife and I separated. After that, I lived with my children for a number of years, but eventually moved out."

Subsequently, he lived a homeless lifestyle and would occasionally seek lodging with friends, before he received assistance from a Member of Parliament to move into his current rental flat in 2019.

Ye also revealed to Shin Min that he had worked for the then-Public Utilities Board for 30 years until his retirement.

Following which, he worked part-time as a cleaner until the age of 70, when he lost his job due to problems with vision and hearing.

Ye said he is currently relying on monthly ComCare handouts to survive, and he also appreciates the biscuits, snacks and mineral water he has received from volunteers and kind donors.

"I typically eat biscuits for my meals," he shared.

"And if I finish the mineral water, I'll drink tap water instead."

Prefers to stay at void deck, despite facing harassment previously

Ye told Shin Min that he prefers staying at the void deck as the space is more cooling.

He would lay out cardboard on the bench to serve as a bed, hang his clothes on a metal frame and store his possessions in plastic bags or boxes nearby.

Typically, he would bathe and do his laundry in the public toilet located at the void deck.

However, Ye shared that he was previously harassed by a resident, who threw eggs at one of the void deck's pillars.

The man apparently also poured syrup under the bench where Ye slept, which attracted many ants.

"Thankfully, he moved out two months ago," Ye shared.

"And no one has disturbed me since."

Likely to move in to new unit by the end of May

According to The Straits Times, the rental block that Ye stays in has been selected to undergo a relocation exercise, and the residents have been moving out since July 2022.

Residents are required to move out before the end of September 2023.

Ye said this was another reason he chose to stay at the void deck, as many residents had already moved out of the block.

This meant that fewer people would be passing through the void deck, making it less likely for him to be harassed or shamed.

He also told Shin Min that HDB has assigned him a new rental unit.

Ye has reached out to a friend to help transport his belongings there, and some of his belongings have already been shifted over.

Would rather be self-reliant

Ye added that even though he has a family, he would rather be self-reliant.

About 20 years ago, he and his wife separated due to matters involving money.

Since then, he has lost contact with his daughter, and his two sons have not paid him a visit either.

"[My children] are not doing well financially, and can only make ends meet. Since each family is facing their own difficulties, I don't expect them to help me."

Ye also expressed that he feels fortunate enough to live till this age.

"I just live day by day, and don't worry too much about what will happen tomorrow. It doesn't really bother me," he said.

Top image via Shin Min Daily News.