REASONS PEOPLE ARE HOMELESS IN MALAYSIA Homeless is defined as people who have nowhere to live, and who often live on the streets (Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, 2008). Almost all countries in the world are facing this phenomenon. However, in Asia there is only one percent of people who are homeless (The U. S. Conference of Mayor, 2001). Do you think people in Malaysia are also homelessness? A 61 year old man, Lim Tian Swee who was mistaken for a beggar had confessed that he was homeless for about nine months and habitually napped at the Pasar Seni LRT Station with other hundreds of people there (Star Newspaper, January 7, 2008).
This shows that Malaysians are also experiencing this problem. Unfortunately, it appears that Malaysia government has failed to acknowledge a clear statistic on the numbers of homeless people. In recent years its nature and composition has changed significantly with an increase in the numbers of persons experiencing homelessness. Why do you think these people are having their sleep on the streets? According to the statistics, the number of homeless people in Malaysia is increasing due to several reasons, which are poverty, unaffordability of housing and running away from problems.
The main reason people in Malaysia are homeless because they are facing poverty in their life. Poverty happens when a family suffers negative financial changes due to poor health, unemployment, and other temporary events. For example, one of a member in a low-income family fights for a serious illness and he cannot afford to pay for the medicine cost. Therefore, he has to find a job as the alternative to earn money to cure the illness. Unfortunately, he fails for the job recruitment because of his disability.
The loss of job results him in loss of accommodation because of insufficient funding to acquire shelter. As the result, he may start a downward spiral thus it will lead him into the homelessness. “People can be so apathetic. They continue to ignore the real people who trapped in poverty and homelessness. It’s almost maddening. ” (Daphne Zuniga). Besides that, the prices that keep on increasing actually burdened the poor people to pay all the expenses due to economic recession and lead the poor people to poverty.
Every country experiences an economic recession. It is a part of the economy flow. In fact from 2008 to 2009 the number of “poor households experiencing extreme cost burden” jumped by nine percent (Danill Karp ; Katia Nelson, March 15, 2011). A huge rise in food, electricity, water, fuel, and goods prices have emerged as a major worry for a country with millions of poor people. Therefore, these poor people do not have any power to avoid this problem from occur. As a result, they have to survive paying all the expenses.
Towards the end, they do not afford to pay for the cost of their living, thus they prefer to be homeless people. Apart from poverty, unaffordability of housing also becomes one of the causes why people in Malaysia are homeless. The house pricing that keeps increasing, makes people decide to be homelessness rather than struggling finding money to afford buying the house. Between 1991 and 1995, median rental costs paid by low-income renters rose 21 percent at the same time, the number of low-income renters increased (Institute for Children and Poverty, 2001).
Basically, the low-cost housing is not enough. If it is available, it has risen to be more expensive and causes the low-income families cannot afford to rent it. The lack of affordable housing makes them face hardship from meeting their other basic needs such as, nutrient and healthcare, or saving for their future and their families. Moreover, there is lack of government’s provision for low-cost affordable houses for the low-income people to compete with median-income people. However, in Malaysia this problem is not rampant compares to other countries but surely, it is still exists.
Our world’s economists and capitalists are forcing under privilege and they have the power. Although the house pricing keeps on increasing, government can only intervene a little bit because the market and demand circulate around our society. Thus, the rich becomes richer, the poor becomes poorer. Another reason people are homeless is running away from their problems. People become selfish to face or settle the problems and they just got to the last conclusion making the wrong decision by running away from home.
There is also a story about a young man who failed to cope when a girlfriend, whom he loved, ended their relationship. He stated that he made a bad decision and decided to leave his job. He received bad advice from his friends. He left Johor Baharu and became a homeless person (New Straits Times article, May 17, 2008). When people think about running away, they probably imagine that there will be no more rules, no more fights and no more parents to tell you what to do. It sounds great and exciting but in reality, people who run away will face new problems like they do not have ny money, food to eat, a safe place to sleep, or anyone to look for them. People who live on the streets often have to steal to buy food. Many of them take drugs or alcohol to get through the day because they become so depressed and feel that no one cares about them. Besides that, the number of people with HIV or AIDS and other diseases is also higher on streets because these people might use IV drugs or have unprotected sex to earn money. In addition, these problems lead this homeless people to be stressful and worst become insane then without further thinking, they disappeared from home.
It is estimated that 25 percent of homeless people have experienced severe mental illness such as schizophrenia or a major mood disorder (P. Koegel, M. A. Burnam ; J. Baumohl, 1996). For example, when there is a broken family institution at home, it will lead to stressful and unharmonious environment. Consequent from being stress at home, they will have unstable emotion. When they cannot bear with the depression, they may lose their mind and become insane, thus leave the house.
In conclusion, poverty, lack of affordable housing and running away from problems leave many people vulnerable for becoming homeless. Every problem has its solution. For the moment, homeless problem in Malaysia may be minor but Malaysians still have the opportunity to reduce the number of the homeless people. Every people in the society should take their responsibility to help these helpless people. Government should provide more homeless shelters and faculties for those in need, as homeless people are humans just like the rest of us.
Moreover, it is very important to have public awareness. Most of the homeless people usually found got mental illnesses by the society. Someone should help to report and register them to the authorities or any refugee’s center. Homeless people such as children on the streets, mentally defected people, and people with disability do not know where they should go if the citizens do not help and guide them. Society should sympathize to homeless people, because with the right foundations, charities, help and support, homelessness problem could be overcome and change their lives.
Furthermore, parents should help their family members in terms of money, advices and never neglect them until they become homeless. They must take their responsibilities on their family members and support them. “Homelessness is always accompanied by helplessness! ” If Malaysians citizen do not willing to lend their hands to help these people to cope their great hardship, who else can be? Therefore, Malaysians need to unite and solve this problem so that there is a way for these unfortunate people to run away from being homelessness. “United we stand, divided we fall. ” (Aesop).