SINGAPORE: In a recent Facebook post, Associate Professor Jamus Lim, a Workers’ Party Member of Parliament representing Seng Kang GRC, shed light on the challenges encountered by single Singaporeans in securing BTO flats under the existing HDB policies.
On Monday (16 Oct), Assoc. Prof. Lim shared on Facebook a story relayed by one of his constituents, illustrating the obstacles faced by singles in Singapore, particularly in relation to public policy.
In addition to having to wait until the age of 35 to apply for a new flat, the constituent also highlighted the unintended repercussions of this policy for individuals who are caring for an elderly parent.
The Workers’ Party has previously voiced opposition to this policy, as they believe that most individuals would have already formed families by the age of 28, and the extended waiting period only renders many singles incapable of achieving independence.
Jamus Lim emphasized that since singles BTOs only permit a studio or two-room unit, individuals with parents (or a widowed parent) who, for various reasons, cannot be listed as co-applicants, must either share a cramped space or venture into the more expensive resale market.
“And were they to (perhaps understandably) pursue the purchase of a larger resale, they would often be excluded from many financial support schemes, on the basis of the higher valuation of their flat, despite not being in particularly great financial circumstances.”
Jamus Lim reiterated that as Singapore evolves into a high-income economy, it is becoming increasingly common for marriages to be delayed, implying that more and more singles might encounter similar challenging circumstances.
During the National Day Rally on 20 August, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that Singles who are at least 35 years old will soon be able to apply for new two-room Housing Board flats in any location.
In a parliamentary session in September, Minister for National Development Desmond Lee confirmed that In response to the housing needs of singles and the elderly, the HDB will launch up to 14,000 two-room flexi flats over the next three years, representing a substantial 30% increase compared to the preceding three years.
Minister Lee also highlighted ongoing efforts to engage with singles regarding their housing preferences, including innovative housing typologies like co-living and intergenerational housing, which are currently under active consideration.
Sengkang MP Louis Chua previously advocated lowering BTO eligibility age for singles to 28
It is worth noting that Louis Chua, a colleague of Jamus Lim in Sengkang GRC, previously proposed allowing singles to apply for a Build-To-Order (BTO) Housing Board flat from the age of 28, as opposed to the current age of 35.
On September 13 last year, during his adjournment motion, Mr Chua highlighted that singles under 35 who desire homeownership face the challenge of either purchasing costly private properties or renting in the competitive open market, where they might be priced out.
“While it is abundantly clear that many Singaporeans who may be single for various reasons before the age of 35 would like to have a place of their own, many simply cannot afford to do so,” he said.
Additionally, Mr Chua emphasized that the existing policy has profound implications for the increasing number of singles under 35, potentially denying them the security of home ownership if they are unable to afford private housing or HDB rentals.
“More importantly, current policy signals to single Singaporeans that their marital status, whether by choice or due to factors beyond their control, is somehow viewed as undesirable and undeserving of Government support for home ownership,” he said.
He proposed the provision of Central Provident Fund housing grants to singles on a tiered scale if the eligibility age is lowered to 28, with grants starting at a reduced amount and progressively increasing up to 35.
In response, Senior Minister of State for National Development, Tan Kiat How, acknowledged that the government has expanded the range of housing options for singles over the years.
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