Closer Families, Stronger Ties

The recently concluded HDB Sample Household Survey (SHS) gave us a good indication of emerging trends on public housing. I will release details later, but meanwhile, let me share a couple of preliminary findings on the living arrangements of married couples vis-à-vis their parents after marriage:

• Compared to 10 years ago (2003), the proportion of those who live together or close by to their parents in the same HDB estate has grown from 31% to 37% in 2013. This is good.

• For 2013, 50% of couples would like to live together or near their parents, but only 37% were able to do so. 13% of them were unable to do so.

I strongly support families living close to one another.  It makes a lot of practical sense, besides nurturing strong family bonds and allowing family values to be passed on from grandparents to their grandchildren.  We must do more to help families stay close to one another.

• Today, HDB gives greater priority to Singaporeans who apply for a BTO flat in the same HDB estate as their parents. Can we go one step further to give them absolute priority? How do we avoid the “alumni” effect, so that those whose parents do not live in their preferred estate still have an opportunity?

• We also provide a higher-tier CPF Housing Grant to eligible first-timers who buy a HDB resale flat with or in the same estate as their parents ($40,000 instead of $30,000). Should we widen the difference? Will this help more to live together or near their parents?

• Mature estates would have limited land to build large numbers of new flats. The children will have to set up homes in non-mature estates.  How can we encourage their parents to live in non-mature estates near their married children?

• HDB recently started building 3Gen flats to cater for multi-generational living. Should we build more of these flats, and slightly fewer 4- or 5-room flats, including in popular mature estates? Are Singaporeans prepared to pay slightly more for the larger size and better location?

We will be launching the first BTO in Tampines North soon. I am sure many Tampines residents whose children are getting married soon hope that they can get a flat in Tampines North, and that we will give them priority. But will others who do not currently live in Tampines agree?

Singaporeans value family and togetherness. How best to help couples and their extended families draw closer to each other for mutual care and support, and by how much? These are some areas which we would like to invite Singaporeans to discuss, as a matter of what we value as a people and the priorities we can agree on as a society.

We are starting a new series of Housing Conversations on “Closer Families; Stronger Ties”.

Please sign up and share your views.  Visit our newly launched website at:

Alternatively, please tell us what you think by taking the online survey.

Let me thank you in advance for helping to shape our housing policies for the better.

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