ThaiHealth in support of low-cost residential project
Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth) and its strategic partners voiced support for the low-cost residential project proposed by Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), and Department of Social Development and Welfare (DSDW), to sustain the livelihood of the vulnerable demographic by helping them with the rights to settle down and to have employment for the sake of better physical and mental health.
Jun 8, 2022 — ThaiHealth, with collaboration of BMA, Chulalongkorn University, DSDW, and strategic partners, organised an event at Homeless Assistance Centre in Hua Lamphong area. The event aimed at mobilising forces of relevant agencies in giving support to the homeless people that are left out in the open, and the support to vulnerable demographic who are at risk of losing homes, by pushing the effort to revive the Baan Imjai and Half-Half Residential Projects, also to reduce the health risks of homeless people in public spaces.
Deputy Governor of Bangkok, Mr Sanon Wangsangboon, said that the City of Bangkok's goal of the study tour is to survey the lives of homeless people living in public areas around the Hua Lamphong railway station, while giving back all homeless people their lost rights in the society after being affected by the economic downturn and the Covid-19 situation. The BMA does not want to call this group of people 'homeless', so they jointly pushed for a policy to take care of this group of people, together with ThaiHealth, Ministry of Social Development and Human Society, a network of academics, and the civil sector. The BMA is therefore supporting the half-priced housing project proposed by ThaiHealth and its strategic partners as it is a prototype model that is believed to help with housing and careers for the homeless people. This reflects the important starting point for the homeless to have a better quality of life.
Mr Sanon added that the visit to the housing project by ThaiHealth and its strategic partners is deemed a very good idea and considered a good example under an effort to restore the Baan Imjai project for the homeless to continue again. The coalition will work the project out further with the system by focusing on placing both homes and workplaces of these people close to each other in order not to be a hindrance in establishing their new life.
“I truly believe that the problems of homeless people in Bangkok must be resolved on the basis of cooperation from all parties, not just by one person or by one agency,” said Mr Sanon.
ThaiHealth’s Director of Health Promotion for Vulnerable Populations, Mrs. Porranee Poobrasert, said that in working with the Knowledge Support Program for enhancing the health and quality of life of the homeless people, the Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University, found that the long-term homelessness is the root cause of augmented physical and mental health problems. In addition, living in public spaces and the Covid-infested environment, the number of homeless people in Bangkok rose by approximately 30% or from 1,307 to 1,700~1,800, while the nationwide figure increased by approximately 4,000 people. Therefore, ThaiHealth is trying to alleviate the problems of homeless people affected by Covid-19 otherwise, long-term homelessness increases the risk of physical and mental health problems in the long run.
ThaiHealth is giving support to this mission with the Housing Department and its strategic partners in 5 aspects: 1) Food Security: setting up of central kitchen selling food in low prices; 2) Residential Development: development of homeless shelters in 4 areas: Bangkok, Pathum Thani, Chiang Mai, and Khon Kaen, with assistive factors necessary to maximise individual potential so that they can establish a strong foothold in life with ability to coexist with others and coordinate with various sectors; 3) Public Health Services: support of necessary medical supplies to ensure easy access to health services; 4) Establishment of Assistance Centre: to assist the homeless in public areas, to create a database of vulnerable demographic, to follow up on them and provide them the necessary information in public areas; and 5) Job Creation: to enable homeless people to become independent, so that they can return to their families and communities where they belonged.
The easy access to suitable housing is another important factor that can reduce the risk of living in public areas. ThaiHealth, therefore, is joining hands with strategic partners to provide innovative housing services and emergency assistance based on the participation of the homeless, the half-priced housing project, or the shared housing project thanks to funding from Homeless Network and the Housing Development Foundation. Participants in the project are required to contribute in the proportion of 60:60 of the monthly rental fee, with the extra 20% to be funding their communities in other areas.
“The past operation from February to April last year has found that the target group had successfully accumulated more than 30,000 baht of funding. In May to July, 20 more people showed their interest to participate in the project. In June to August, the project welcomed 10 more participants. This signifies that the project could successfully help the homeless people to have access to work, income, savings, and better quality of life. The success indicates that the homeless people have potential, if given the right opportunity and support. This is a good starting point and ThaiHealth believes that it will be an important force in reducing the number of these underprivileged people in the future,” said Ms Poranee.
Manager of the Knowledge Development Program for Homeless Health from the Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University, Mr Anak Pitakthanin, added that the Covid-19 situation caused the number of new homeless people in Bangkok to increase. Shelters for the homeless provided by the current government and civil society are not sufficient to support this group of demographic, resulting in many homeless people and vulnerable groups who have to face the risk of living in public. The innovation of half-priced housing arose from the cooperation of many sectors trying to help with housing for the homeless that will lead to long-term life footholds.
Mr Anak also added that “Today is an auspicious day as the City of Bangkok sees the importance of giving support to the homeless while preventing more people from becoming homeless. The policy of Baan Imjai as an emergency centre for the homeless and vulnerable groups will include access to welfare, adequate employment, and sufficient income, which serve as a social infrastructure on a city level. For this matter, the city doesn’t only provide a social protection system to the homeless only, but the infrastructure will include all economically and socially fragile populations in the capital.”
“In regards to policy related to homeless people that I would like to propose to the new administrators at BMA are: a comprehensive database of homeless people in Bangkok to help support and restore the quality of life of the homeless and those vulnerable to homelessness effectively, the development of support for a housing rental system for vulnerable groups to the homeless and new homeless people, and proactive work in both public areas emergency assistance and the search for vulnerable groups to homelessness in the community. It is believed that these proposed projects will play an important role in preventing the entry of homelessness in the long run, all perfectly under roles, duties, and potentials of Bangkok Metropolitan Administration. In addition, there are network partners from many sectors that are more than ready to work alongside the BMA to drive opportunities for the homeless on the basis of human dignity,” said Mr Anak.