Providing Affordable Flats and Good Homes

2019 has been a busy year for MND’s work on public housing.

We are doubling down on our efforts to build affordable flats and good homes for all Singaporeans.

Over the last five years, around 150,000 families have booked or collected their keys to their first homes.

Many of them purchased new flats in non-mature estates (NMEs) like Punggol, Sengkang or Tengah. We price these flats at generous discounts to the market. As a result, the vast majority of buyers of new NME flats spend little or zero cash outlay on their mortgage payments.

In September this year, we made two major policy moves – we raised the income ceilings for HDB flats and introduced a new Enhanced CPF Housing Grant.

This means that more young couples will benefit from housing subsidies for their first HDB flat. They can enjoy up to $80,000 in grants when they buy a new flat (which is sold at a discounted price), and up to $160,000 in grants when they buy a resale flat in the open market.

These changes will lead to greater demand for public housing. To meet this additional demand, HDB will be launching about 16,000-17,000 new flats in 2020. This is more than the BTO supply of 14,600 flats this year.

Besides ensuring housing affordability, we also want existing HDB flats to remain good homes for their owners. Hence we are investing significantly in the upgrading of HDB estates.

Over the last five years, we have spent about $3 billion on various HDB upgrading programmes. In the coming years, we will continue to do more to provide better, greener and smarter homes across all HDB precincts.

We also recognise that some seniors use their HDB flats to supplement their retirement income. That is why we extended the Lease Buyback Scheme (LBS) to cover all HDB flat types. This allows HDB owners, upon reaching the age of 65, to unlock value from their flats to supplement their retirement income, and still continue to have a home for life.

Many people are still not that familiar with the LBS. So over the last few months, we stepped up efforts to raise public awareness about the scheme. The response has been very positive, and take-up for LBS has nearly doubled to around 1,500 households this year.

Besides these policy moves, we are making long-term plans to ensure HDB flats remain good homes to live in. In particular, as announced previously, the government will progressively redevelop older HDB towns through the Voluntary Early Redevelopment Scheme (VERS).

We are working out the implementation details of VERS, and will share more when ready. Meanwhile, in recent weeks, there have been several alternative suggestions to VERS, including different ways to manage the expiring of HDB leases. MND will consider all such feedback and ideas, and study them in greater detail.

It is worth noting that across these different proposals, there is common ground on some key fundamentals. In particular, there is broad-based recognition of the need for urban renewal in our land-scarce city, so that land can be recycled, and new flats can be built for future generations. This is the reason why so much of our land is on a leasehold basis, be it for private or public residential properties.

Indeed as our HDB estates get older, there will be a greater need for comprehensive redevelopment and renewal works. The Government is committed to this long-term undertaking. That is why we started the process early, to plan well ahead in advance, so that the redevelopment of our housing estates can be done in an effective, orderly and sustainable manner.

Next year will be a significant milestone for HDB as we mark its 60th anniversary. HDB has been one of Singapore’s most successful public institutions. Right from the start, HDB has strived to foster communities, conscious of the need to give people homes, not just houses.

Most of all, HDB’s success is due to our ability to constantly adapt and change, and come up with new policies to meet the evolving needs of society.

It is this spirit of innovation that will enable us to realise our evergreen mission of providing affordable flats and good homes for every generation of Singaporeans.

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