The recent unfortunate fire incidents in estates across Singapore have brought to fore certain underlying issues such as hoarding tendencies among some residents, and the threats they pose.
Hoarding puts the lives of residents who live with the clutter at risk, and poses a danger to those who live in close proximity. There have been instances where firefighters struggled to go through stacks of hoarded items that towered to the ceiling. According to a news report in The Straits Times, there are currently 260 active hoarding cases islandwide that remain protracted and unresolved.
RAMIFICATIONS ON THE COMMUNITY
While the individuals who hoard suffer from the negative effects of their behaviour, there are ramifications for the rest of the community as well. When clutter from the home spills into shared spaces such as corridors and lift landings, it becomes a nuisance to neighbours, attracts pests, and in some cases become a fire hazard. Hoarders do not engage in such behaviour with the intention of causing harm to others, but they need collective educational efforts and support to learn about hoarding and its dangers.
THE WAY FORWARD
To address this issue in our public housing estates, the Hoarding Management Core Group (HMCG) was set up in 2014 comprising multiple agencies. It is led by the Municipal Services Office (MSO) to coordinate efforts across agencies and resolve protracted and severe hoarding cases. The interagency group is made up of the following : the HDB, the National Environment Agency, the Animal and Veterinary Service of NParks, the SCDF, the Ministry for Social and Family Affairs, the People’s Association, and the Agency for Integrated Care.
Recently, Ms Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & the Ministry of National Development Deputy Government, shared during a Parliament session that the HMCG was able to help reduce the severity of 210 cases as of the first half of the year. “In the coming months, agencies intend to work with Town Councils to step up enforcement on cluttered corridors,” she added.
The MSO will also work with the media and grassroots volunteers to further disseminate and reinforce key messages through enhanced public education on the importance of keeping our shared spaces clutter-free.
Dr Faishal Ibrahim, the Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development, also shared that the SCDF is embarking on a trial with the HDB, Town Councils and Temasek Foundation to place and maintain one fire extinguisher in a lift every two blocks.
Keeping a safe neighbourhood is important, and public safety is everyone’s responsibility. It’s a collective effort, and as a caring community, we can all play a part in ensuring a healthy and positive living environment for everyone.
In addition to educating residents on the dangers of hoarding, Town Council officers engage and work with residents to declutter their common corridors, and rope in relevant agencies to help in complex situations.
In cases where there are too many items to declutter, the Town Council assists by providing the necessary help to dispose of unwanted items.
In JRTC, residents who need help to dispose of their bulky items can send in their requests via our website or call 6561-2222.