82-year-old man has been living at Sin Ming void deck, using public toilet to bathe for almost a year

An elderly man has clarified why he has been living and sleeping at a Housing Board (HDB) void deck, following untrue claims about him being homeless.

The 82-year-old man's situation recently came to light after a video circulating online claimed that he was homeless. Although the video did not reveal his exact location, offers of help poured in from netizens.

Shin Min Daily News tracked down the man and found him living at Block 26 Sin Ming Industrial Estate Sector A, a standalone HDB rental block that will soon be no more.

According to The Straits Times, the block is home to 300 residents, including more than 130 low-income elderly residents. They will have to relocate by September 2023.

Mr Ye Huanzhang told Shin Min that he has been living at the block for four years. However, his fan broke down in mid-2022, leaving his house stuffy.

And with other residents moving out one after another due to the relocation exercise, Mr Ye decided to move too — to the void deck.

Photo: Shin Min Daily News

Mr Ye said he was a civil servant for 30 years. He worked as a part-time cleaner after retirement, but stopped in his 70s due to his declining vision and hearing.

He revealed: "I used to have my own house, but chose to sell it after I retired and divorced my wife. I then lived with my children for a few years before moving out.

"I have tried living the life of a vagrant with just my luggage, as well as tried living with my friend. It was not until four years ago that I moved into the rental block with my Member-of-Parliament's help."

Mr Ye said the void deck is cooling and no one bothers him there.

He currently relies on financial assistance, but noted that there are often volunteers or kind souls who donate biscuits and snacks to him.

He added: "My mineral water is all donated by Good Samaritans. I mostly eat biscuits for my three meals. If I finish the mineral water, I will drink tap water. I use the public toilet downstairs to shower and do my laundry."

Photo: Shin Min Daily News

Mr Ye also said he has been assigned a new unit in the relocation exercise, but has too many belongings at the void deck. Although he previously asked a friend to help use a lorry to transport his things, they did not manage to shift everything and he does not want to keep bothering people.

He plans to slowly move his things to the new unit and expects to finish doing so by the end of this month or in May.

Mr Ye and his wife divorced 20 years ago due to money troubles. Although he has three children, they are not doing financially well and hence, he prefers to be self-reliant. While his two sons visit him sometimes, he does not know his daughter's whereabouts.

"They themselves are not well-off and have their own lives. Plus every family has their own difficulties, so I don't expect them to help," he added.

Mr Ye also shared how he was once a target of harassment by a resident, who was apparently unhappy with him living at the void deck.

The resident would throws eggs on the wall and pour syrup under the bench where Mr Ye slept, thus attracting ants.

Photo: Shin Min Daily News

The pranks stopped when the resident moved away two months ago.

Mr Ye said that things have been mostly quiet since nearly everyone has moved away, plus it is inevitable that his sleeping arrangements would set tongues wagging. Having lived till this age, he is not sure what tomorrow will bring and is therefore not bothered by much.