Updated: 03/09/2013 06:06

Government to relook at public housing as it announces several new measures

Government to relook at public housing as it announces several new measures

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan has announced several new housing measures to help first- and second-timer applicants, divorcees, the elderly, and singles.
Singles will be allowed to buy new flats, priority schemes will also be extended to married couples without children. 

Speaking in Parliament during the debate on his Ministry's budget, Mr Khaw said a re-look of public housing policies is necessary in the light of significant demographic and economic changes. 

The Parenthood Priority Scheme announced in January as part of the enhanced Marriage and Parenthood Package ... applies to married couples with children below the age of 16 who want to buy their first home. 

They are given priority allocation of Build-To-Order or BTO flats, as 30 per cent of flat supply is set aside for them. 

From May, the priority scheme will be extended to expectant mothers. 

And next year, married couples without children will also qualify. 

The Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme which provides interim rental housing while they wait for their new flats to be completed, will also be extended to all first-timer married couples - with, or without children. 

Another key change - allowing singles aged 35 and above to buy new HDB flats. 

First-timer singles who earn up to $5,000 can buy new 2-room flats in non-mature estates.

Second-timers will also get a better chance to secure a flat. 

The quota for 2-room and 3-room flats in non-mature estates will be doubled to 30 per cent. 

Out of the 30 per cent quota, five per cent will be reserved for divorcees or widowers with children below 16. 

As for the elderly, there'll be a new Studio Apartment Priority Scheme. 

Half of the studio apartments built will be reserved for seniors who apply for one near their current home, or near where their married children live. 

Mr Khaw said the government will ramp up supply of flats to meet the different needs. 

25,000 flats will be built this year,- 2000 more than previously announced. 

He said affordability will remain a key tenet of public housing policies and BTO prices will be kept steady, even as resale prices go up. 

Mr Khaw also spoke about the need to chart out the future of public housing in Singapore. 

This includes addressing its purpose and the types of housing to be provided as the country progresses. 

Public discussions will be held in the coming months to take in diverse views. 

Separately, the Ministry is also planning to introduce a cap on the number of foreigner tenants in HDB blocks to prevent the growth of foreigner enclaves. 

While that is sorted out, HDB will, with immediate effect, cap approvals for all new and renewal of HDB tenancy agreements involving non-citizens - to one and a half years. 

Mr Khaw said the changes will not apply to Malaysian tenants as they face fewer integration challenges.

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