Housing Policies Must Support Social Objectives

Housing Policies Must Support Social Objectives

When formulating housing policies, I am guided by important social objectives. What are they?

First, we encourage the young to get married. Family is the foundation of all societies. A stable family builds a stable society.

Second, we encourage the couples to have children as soon as they get married. Young healthy parents provide the best chances for their children.

In my generation, most went through this sequence: get married, rent a home, have a baby or more, buy a home. I did.

But my young Sembawang activists taught me that such a sequence was outdated. What is cool is to first get a home, then get married, and start a family. In fact, I am attending the wedding next month of one such activist. He has been courting his fiancée for years. Both applied and successfully selected a Build-To-Order (BTO) flat (in Sembawang) three years ago. They are now getting married because the flat is about to be handed over.

That is why I moved quickly in MND, to (a) ramp up BTO flat construction, (b) introduce the Parenthood Priority Scheme (PPS), and (c) the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS). All three initiatives are meant to help the young meet their aspirations as soon as they are ready to do so. In particular, those applying under the PPS in non-mature estates enjoyed a very good chance of success.

I am glad the new policies are showing results. The first-timer backlog is largely cleared. And come January, almost 10,000 couples will have benefitted from the PPS. Among them, about half or nearly 5,000 couples are either expecting, or already have young children below 2 years old.

We are also seeing good response to the PPHS. This offers families the option of temporarily renting a HDB flat at affordable rates, while they wait for their new flats to be ready. Since the launch of the PPHS, nearly 800 flats have been taken up. As vacancies are still available, eligible families can now apply for PPHS at any time. They can also move into their PPHS flats soon after applying.

It’s been a very busy year here at MND. We are having the final BTO block handover tomorrow as we put a cap to the work done in 2013, and map out the plans for 2014.

Happy Boxing Day!

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