A nationwide study by the National University of Singapore recently found that about 1,000 people were sleeping on the streets, despite the country being one of the richest nations in the world

According to New Straits Times, the study found that the homeless are mostly older men and many of them have been homeless for at least six years.

The main reasons for sleeping rough were unemployment, low pay, family relationship problems, and lack of access to housing services.

In an attempt to reach out and aid the homeless, Masjid Sultan just announced that they are going to be the first mosque in Singapore to provide a place of temporary shelter

The Partners Engaging and Empowering Rough Sleepers Network (PEERS) initiative is a collaboration between the almost 200-year-old mosque and the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF).

The ministry has stepped up its partnership with community groups because it was found that the homeless may be afraid of and shun help from the authorities, but not staff and volunteers from charities, reported The Straits Times.

The mosque joins four churches, a temple, and a charity in providing a temporary living place for the homeless.

The mosque welcomes the homeless to seek refuge in one of their halls from 10pm to 7am the next morning

“Besides being a place of worship, we at Masjid Sultan feel it is our responsibility to help this group of people,” the Masjid Sultan Social Development Officer, Muhammad Aizuddin Jamaludin, told BERITA Mediacorp.

Away from the main building and prayer hall, the space prepared is a multipurpose hall at the basement of the Annexe Building, right beside the mosque.

The mosque has assured members of the public that this new initiative would not disturb nor obstruct mosque-goers, as the room can only be accessed via a side entrance.

The room, large enough to accommodate five people, is fitted with a fan and new sets of mattresses and pillows.

Bottled water is also provided at the corner of the room.

To use the shelter, the homeless have to find a security guard from the mosque and register, before using the space.

For the time being, the shelter is only available to men, regardless of race or religion

The mosque representatives said they will consider expanding this initiative in the future.

Meanwhile, the accommodation comes with a single rule, which is that an individual can only seek refuge in the mosque for a few nights.

After which, the ministry will refer them to government agencies or other social services who can help them find a permanent place to stay.

SAYS

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