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Jamus Lim: Singapore’s public housing increasingly unaffordable and impacts youths

In a recent FB post, WP MP Assoc Prof Jamus Lim has again voiced apprehension regarding the escalating prices of public housing in Singapore. He reiterated the Workers’ Party’s stance, highlighting the worsening affordability crisis, posing challenges for young Singaporeans’ access to adequate shelter.



SINGAPORE: Associate Professor Jamus Lim, Workers’ Party Member of Parliament (MP) for Sengkang GRC, has again voiced apprehension regarding the escalating prices of public housing in Singapore.

He has reiterated the Workers’ Party’s stance that the affordability of public housing is progressively deteriorating, which could potentially result in young Singaporeans being unable to secure adequate shelter.

In a recent Facebook post on Tuesday (21 May), Assoc Prof Lim drew attention to the soaring costs of HDB flats in Sengkang GRC, citing reports of million-dollar units.

While acknowledging that million-dollar flats are “undeniably outliers”, Assoc Prof Lim contends that they signify more than just an anomaly but rather reflect underlying concerns about the increasing cost of living.

He emphasized that these exceptional cases are not isolated incidents but rather symptomatic of broader affordability issues facing Singaporeans.

This issue has been deliberated in Parliament on multiple occasions in recent years.

While the government maintains that incomes have kept pace with home prices, particularly with the inclusion of grants for Built-To-Order (BTO) flats, Assoc Prof Lim reaffirmed the WP’s viewpoint that public housing is becoming less affordable, potentially leaving young Singaporeans with inadequate housing options.

He pointed out that despite Singapore’s house price-to-household income (HPIR) ratio hovering around 4, it is classified as “severely unaffordable” by neutral observers such as the Demographia Index of Housing Affordability.

He argued that while first-timer grants may slightly mitigate this classification, they only move the situation from “severely unaffordable” to “seriously unaffordable.”

“It’s hard to shake the reality that homes here are unaffordable; putzing around with subsidies only makes things less bad,” Assoc Prof Lim added.

He further discussed the challenges faced by households in Singapore, particularly regarding the necessity of having a two-income household due to high living expenses.

Highlighting Singapore’s high female labour force participation rates, he noted the resulting need for both partners to work full-time to make ends meet.

“So, while families in other countries are able to make ends meet with one breadwinner (or two, but with one working part-time or taking time off for maternity or care for kids or parents), that’s almost impossible here. ”

He also pointed out that unlike in other places where people can opt for lower housing costs in less convenient areas, Singapore lacks such options due to its limited land size.

Even what may be considered remote or less desirable neighbourhoods in Singapore now have HDB resale prices that are high by global standards, providing little relief for those seeking more affordable housing options within the country.

He also highlighted that while some may perceive HDB flats as interchangeable with real estate assets, the reality is that they depreciate over time and expire worthless at the end of the lease period.

“So while a house in other expensive global cities may even appreciate in the long run and become an asset that can be passed down to future generations, this is not the case with our HDB units.”

Therefore, he asserted that Singapore’s HPIR should trend towards 3, as defined by the index as “affordable,” which would significantly alleviate the challenges of homeownership.

He underscored, “This is especially so for many young Singaporeans, who often feel priced out of the market, right at the point of graduation. ”

He emphasized that this situation not only impacts their cost of living but also leads to undesirable outcomes, such as delaying the age at which they establish families or weakening their ties to their homeland.

PM Wong once defended affordability for four-room BTO flat prices in non-mature estates has improved

In his Budget 2024 wrap-up speech on 28 February, then-Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, now newly sworn-in as PM, addressed concerns about the affordability of public housing, particularly among the younger generation.

He specifically defended the accessibility of owning a house, highlighting a notable trend in affordability.

He said over the last 10 years, the average price of a four-room BTO flat in non-mature estates has remained relatively stable, even with rising median household incomes

He emphasized that, in real terms, the affordability of these flats has improved.

“The challenge we faced was with the prices of BTO flats in choicer locations, which are more expensive, ” he explained.

The government introduced a new Standard, Plus and Prime framework to address the issue. The framework aims to keep the BTO flats in these better locations affordable through more upfront subsidies.

“but it will be a fair system because the additional subsidies will be clawed back when the first owners sell the flats, ” added Mr Wong.

WP MP raises alarming concerns on housing affordability

Mr Muhamad Faisal Bin Abdul Manap, WP MP for Aljunied GRC had earlier highlighted two primary concerns, particularly for young Singaporeans from low-income households: affordability and availability.

He pointed out that the support of underemployment and savings packages is capped at S$30,000, resulting in challenges for households trying to purchase their own homes.

“If we assume a 50/50 split in the amounts a household receives for each section, the maximum amount a household receives for purchasing their own home is $15,000. ”

“After including the grants, the price of a three-room flat in the February 2024 launch of BTO projects ranges between $127,000 and $172,000. Assuming the household successfully applies for a housing loan, the downpayment involved would range between $25,400 and $34,400. ”

Mr Manap highlighted that this insufficient support makes it challenging for families, especially those with children, to save for their homes due to immediate daily needs.

Furthermore, he addressed the extended wait times for BTO units, affecting both middle-income and lower-income families.

For lower-income families with children, the living environments in rental flats may not be conducive for young children, impacting their development.

Mr Manap suggested a more proactive approach, such as prioritizing households ready to purchase their own homes in Sales of Balance Flats exercises or providing assistance in purchasing resale flats at subsidized prices.

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WP should consider my logic questioning COE: COE has been ongoing for more than 3 decades but the world have yet understood its magic and does not adopt it. Why? Does COE reduce car population? Lets dissect. 1. Super expensive means less may buy. 2. But human needs to be inside a car remains and remains satisfiable via legally allowed PHV, Taxis, Rentals, second hand cheaper cars. All these cars need Buy COE to be these cars. By operators. So, COE how come remain very high and gets super high at times? DEMAND. LPPL? Singaporeans, how smart are you? Political… Read more »

Whoever you are if you claim you don’t mind your hdb asset worth little but yet complain value dropsvwhen the lease decay you are basically a hypocrite and flipper, suffering from split dual personality, better see a psychiatric.

I have read that some of the local citizens going up north to have dental treatment and this could b due to the relatively cheaper prices in up north.

It is clear that rising public house prices and housing prices in general is bad for the demographic health of any country. What you end up with is smaller homes, smaller families and thus, fewer children and in 20 years time, a smaller workforce. What do you call this type of planning again? Ah yes, “Long-Term planning.” The ruling government knew that there would be an ageing population issue 40 years in advance. The ruling government knew that there would be a Fertility rate crisis 20 years in advance. Yet here we are in 2024, TRF is below 1.0. Home… Read more »

Question only for hdb owner here. Do you want your hdb asset to worth much or little? I want honest answer. Cast your pap hates aside touch your heart and answer, no bs.

Its a “No Money No Talk, and “You Die Your Business ” sgov we got…then and now..
….yet that kayu ex PM, now Mil$ SM is begging SGs to support LW and his team….
Whats new? Nothing…all the same old foggies holding on to their mil$ posts…
So what are we to expect? Change?
Even our toes are laughing.🤣

Last edited 20 days ago by W.A.J.

WP and PSP/
Continue to question and to suggest solutions.
PAP continuous mass importation of immigrants to enrich themselves.
We are getting sick on the receiving end…

Oppo talk only. Housing prices are very directly linked to the economy of the state. You cannot solve one issue and expect that by doing so ,does not disturb or create an even worse outcome. Jamus is talking crap and knows nuts about the property market. Property pricing is a very difficult issue to solve but one thing is for sure, if who ever does not run the country properly, the property market would nose dive and even crash! Just look North and you can see why. So is the oppo going to do this sort of thing? Pray hard… Read more »

HDB prices are affordable as long as a minimum of 61%, their children and their future descendants maintain an IQ level lower than a single digit. Then anything the white uniform says, they just believe without asking questions. 🤣

Eligible Singaporean voters with low IQ is good for the country.
Non-eligible voters such as foreigners with high IQ working in Singapore is also good for the country. 🤣


1G leaders – conceived public housing for what it is, a basic necessity for the ppl. 2G leaders – politicized public housing. Recall Ah Goh’s policy of linking HDB upgrading to votes (CPIB already shown to be sleeping). 3G leaders – monetized public housing; for greed, profits and as a failure to grow the economy by other means other than squeezing the citizens. 4G leaders – 2G and 3G policies already too ingrained into SG system, very difficult to revert back to the original aim of 1G. The good news is it wouldn’t be a surprise that lawlanWong would make… Read more »

Let’s examine this ISSUE without fuss, and without overly rationalisation. The PAP Administration hegemonic strategy not that indistinguishable weaponising housing, accomodation for political gains AND control, manipulation over Singaporeans. Lest one overlooked, the racial mix, the racial segregation is one prime example. The TOUGH and TIGHT controls viz rules and regulations, the CPF tweaks, the various eligibility rules and permissions, the LAST but NOT LEAST of bussing all Senior Folks into OLD FOLKS SLUMS don’t give any semblance towards maximising National Utility, Realty to enable SG to live peacefully at their choosing. Do NOT forget the neighborhood/ so called elite… Read more »

Will this regime still maintain that public housing is affordable to all, … in a years time or two or five !!!

If prices don’t keep increasing HOW will the PAP keep their promise that your HDB pigeonhole is a rising “asset”. And WHO was it who said that the value of said asset goes down to ZERO as the lease runs out? I think it was Lawrence Wrong, our current busker in chief.

Not many HDB flats have 30 stories For each, there may be 4 units on the highest floor. How many can afford to buy such flats? But, for each sale, it will shift the “median” price upwards Not a great deal, but it DOES shift it upwards. It definitely will not shift it DOWN.. So, PAP can talk all the bull & cock Housing costs are up. Then the PAP talks about salaries going up. Once again, yes.. the CEOs and the management salaries have gone up. This also shifts the median up. It definitely does not shift it down.… Read more »

lease hold expiring ……ask liang por por how to solve. tsk tsk tsk

where is the xia suay guy? tsk tsk tsk

Definitely we need more opposition parties. faster-err , better-err, and cheaper-err,

What do you think? LOL

Papigs can’t solve the problem .

Bless by the 60s .

To really solve the basic housing prices from escalating to stratosphere level, it’s not about building more blocks of flats here and there, new condominiums here and there. It’s the relentless mass importation of foreigners to become naturalized citizens and PRs, at over 50k to 60k a year, beside so many millions of work pass issued. The latter is affecting the doubling of housing rent in just the last few years. If we curb the mass import to say like 3k to 5k a year, everything will be back to normal. Of course still need to build over 20k BTO… Read more »

Last edited 21 days ago by Singapore Fooled Again n Again

Still can PAWN the house mah .

Grant is a very beautiful english .