Homeless individuals reside around Komtar, and more are throughout the state. This issue is worrying as to how to get them off the streets and empower them to survive on their own.

That is how the idea for the homeless transit centre came about. Since 2016, the State Government, in collaboration with the Penang Social Welfare Department and multiple non-governmental organisations (NGOs), has been working towards the realisation of the Penang Homeless Transit Center development project. However, this project faced delays attributed to the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO) in 2020.

The State Government’s commitment to enhancing social development came to fruition on June 16, 2023, when Penang Chief Minister Y.A.B. Tuan Chow Kon Yeow officially inaugurated the Penang Homeless Transit Center on Jalan C. Y. Choy. Chow hopes that such a center will be a starting point to empower people experiencing homelessness to strive for a better quality of life at the same time, help to reduce social problems in the state.

According to Chow, the Penang State Government has allocated RM4.4 million to realise the ‘state’s first homeless transit centre’. In addition, the Penang City Council (MBPP) also contributed a plot of land measuring 1,370 square meters, which has a shophouse unit, declared as a Category 2 heritage building for the project development site.

Penang Homeless Transit Centre was built with the concept of ‘triple net zero’ – zero energy, zero waste, and zero water and opened its doors to the public on August 1, 2023.The centre fully managed by the Penang Welfare Department, is equipped with various facilities, including office space, workshop and seminar rooms, dormitories, cafeteria, prayer room, drying room, backyard, bathroom and toilet and leisure room. If accepted, a homeless person is entitled to stay for a maximum of 14 days, where they are provided with training skills according to their interests. The training is under the state’s “Empowering The Street Citizen” programme to help prepare them for job opportunities so that they can reintegrate into society.

Chow welcomes experts from NGOs and non-governmental entities, encouraging them to collaborate in revitalising the potential of homeless individuals at the homeless transit centre.

To conclude, the opening of the Penang Homeless Transit Centre represents a significant step forward in the State Government’s commitment to addressing homelessness and social issues in the region. With a strong emphasis on empowerment and rehabilitation, this innovative centre is a beacon of hope for people without homes. It offers a path to a better quality of life and reintegration into society by providing shelter, training, and support.