SINGAPORE: Families with young children living in public rental flats can own a Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat a second time more easily with changes to the Fresh Start scheme.
These families need to have stayed in public rental flats for a year to qualify, down from the current two years. The scheme assists such families in owning a 2-room Flexi flat.
Making the announcement on Tuesday (Mar 6) during his ministry’s Committee of Supply debate, Minister of State for National Development Koh Poh Koon said: “This means that eligible families may even be emplaced in the Fresh Start Programme before their first rental tenancy renewal.”
Giving an update on the scheme, which Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced at the 2015 National Day Rally, Dr Koh said that more than 130 families have applied for the scheme. Out of these, 61 applications have been approved and 31 of them have booked a flat, he said.
Dr Koh gave the example of the Chng family, who booked a flat in Yishun last year. With the Fresh Start grant of S$20,000 and his CPF savings, Mr Chng bought the flat without a loan.
After collecting their keys, the family of four can receive up to S$15,000 in grants over the next five years, which will grow their CPF savings, Dr Koh said.
“Fresh Start is still a new scheme, and we will continue to consider further enhancements with the Advisory Committee,” he said.
RENTAL FAMILIES ENCOURAGED TO DISCUSS HOME OWNERSHIP HOPES WITH HDB
On average, 800 households move from rental homes into homes they own each year, Dr Koh said. Most of these households are first-timers, helped by affordable flat prices and “generous housing grants”, he added.
Rental families also get priority in allocation under the Tenant’s Priority Scheme. After the scheme was expanded to second-timer families in 2016, 150 more families have benefitted, Dr Koh said.
He also responded to MPs who asked about help for Singaporeans who do not meet the public rental eligibility criteria, and for larger families with children.
“This is why HDB’s needs-based approach is important, ” Dr Koh said.
Families above the S$1,500 gross household income ceiling may be accorded flexibility, he said.
“In the last three years, we let more than 470 families with income above the ceiling enter public rental,” he said, adding that higher expenses incurred by larger families are taken into account when assessing their housing options.