SINGAPORE: More Housing and Development Board (HDB) residents were satisfied with their flat, neighbourhood and estate facilities in 2018, compared to five years before, according to the findings of an HDB survey released on Sunday (Feb 14).
The latest Sample Household Survey, conducted in 2018 among nearly 8,000 households across all HDB estates, aimed to gather feedback and identify emerging trends in public housing. It has been conducted once every five years since 1968.
The first part of the survey findings, released on Wednesday, focused on the profile of the resident population and their housing preferences.
READ: More HDB households but average size shrank, with fewer multi-generational families living together
The second part of the findings, centred on residents' living experiences, found that 93.2 per cent of residents were satisfied with their flat, slightly higher than the 91.6 per cent in 2013.
Residents cited reasons such as the design and layout of the flat.
"Flat designs today have evolved to include a wide variety of layouts that afford more generous views, natural ventilation and light while providing greater privacy to residents. Satisfaction levels with flats were high across households living in different flat types and residents of all ages," HDB said.
On the other hand, households that were not satisfied with their flat had faced issues such as spalling concrete and ceiling leaks, which occur in older flats, HDB said.
The Housing Board said it would continue to "help flat owners address maintenance issues related to older flats through the Home Improvement Programme (HIP) and Goodwill Repair Assistance scheme".
SATISFACTION WITH NEIGHBOURHOOD
More residents were also satisfied with their neighbourhoods, citing reasons such as being in a convenient location, having friendly neighbours and a peaceful environment.
The percentage of satisfied residents grew from 92 per cent in 2013 to 95.3 per cent in 2018.
HDB noted that in particular, 91.4 per cent of residents were satisfied with rejuvenation programmes such as the HIP and Neighbourhood Renewal Programme, HDB said.
In contrast, households that were dissatisfied felt their neighbours were noisy, inconsiderate or unfriendly.
Within the town, residents also reported high satisfaction with the walkability and accessibility to transport nodes and commercial facilities. Satisfaction ranged from 96.6 per cent to 98 per cent.
More than eight in 10 were also content with their current travelling time to work.
HDB said these sentiments "underscore the convenience of self-sufficient HDB towns, with facilities provided at the town, neighbourhood and precinct levels to cater to residents' daily living".
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SATISFACTION WITH ESTATE FACILITIES
A larger proportion of households were also satisfied with these estate facilities – rising from 96.1 per cent in 2013 to 98.6 per cent in 2018.
Out of all such facilities, shopping and retail ones scored the highest marks, with 97.9 per cent of residents satisfied with them.
Education, market and community facilities were close behind, with at least 97 per cent of residents satisfied.
In terms of usage, more than 50 per cent of residents visited commercial facilities like supermarkets, coffee shops and hawker centres at least once a week.
But HDB noted that, with the exception of supermarkets, usage levels had fallen over the past five years, "likely due to the increasing trend of online shopping and food delivery services".
Nevertheless, commercial facilities – which also include shopping centres – remained the most popular place for residents to hang out, with almost seven in 10 residents usually spending their time in these areas.
The survey also found that about four in 10 HDB residents had bought items online in 2018, with clothing and footwear being the most common purchases.
A higher proportion of online shoppers lived in four-room or larger flat types. The majority of them were also aged 45 and below, and likely to be from families with young children.
In this group of online shoppers, close to half reported that they had shopped less at HDB shops. A small proportion also said they had never patronised HDB shops.
HDB acknowledged that demand for e-commerce has continued to grow with the COVID-19 pandemic, but added that "heartland shops continue to play an important role in serving the needs of residents".
"HDB will continue to support neighbourhood shops in boosting their vibrancy and competitiveness, through schemes such as the Revitalisation of Shops scheme to upgrade the common areas of HDB town and neighbourhood centres," it said.
STRONGER SENSE OF BELONGING TO ESTATE
The proportion of residents who felt a sense of belonging to their towns and estates has risen over the years, hitting a high of 99 per cent in 2018, HDB said.
These residents include those who have been living in their areas for five years or less.
"Having a sense of belonging is important to the social well-being of the community, as it is often the foundation on which attachment, bonding and pride among residents are built," the Housing Board said.
But it noted that those who were older and had lived in their neighbourhoods for more than 30 years reported stronger sentiments.
The survey in 2018 was also the first time HDB had asked residents for feedback on places that held special memories for them.
It found that almost a quarter of residents, or 23.2 per cent, had fond memories of places in their towns.
Among them, about 30 per cent cited the HDB blocks or precinct facilities, while about 22 per cent cited parks and gardens.
FEWER INTERACTIONS WITH NEIGHBOURS
A total of 96.9 per cent of residents were satisfied with neighbourly relations.
But there were fewer in-person interactions across the board, whether it was having a casual conversation, visiting each other or helping to look after children.
As an exception, there was a higher proportion of residents who communicated via group chats.
HDB noted that even less intense forms of interaction, such as greeting each other, are "equally important in creating connections between diverse networks, as neighbours may be a critical source of help in times of emergency".
While interactions fell, more residents interacted with their neighbours within the block, increasing from 75.6 per cent in 2013 to 83.8 per cent in 2018.
Almost all of them agreed there were sufficient places for these interactions, including community living rooms on the ground floor of HDB blocks and precinct pavilions, HDB said.
At the same time, the proportion of residents who said they had faced nuisances from neighbours fell from 48.1 per cent in 2013 to 30 per cent in 2018.
The main types of nuisances were noise, littering and smoking at common areas.
MORE LENDING A HAND
Over the years, the proportion of residents contributing to the community grew from 27.1 per cent in 2013 to 40.2 per cent in 2018.
They offered help such as keeping the common areas clean, picking up litter, volunteering and looking after their neighbours.
HDB also noted that younger residents aged below 35 years old were more willing to help.
"On the other hand, participation in organised community activities had declined from 48.6 per cent in 2013 to 39.1 per cent in 2018, which suggests that residents might prefer to contribute their services to the community in their own time," HDB said.
The surveys have enabled trend analysis over time, providing insights into residents' evolving sentiments on their HDB living experience, the Housing Board said.
"Besides providing valuable feedback for HDB to enhance the design of flats, neighbourhoods and HDB estates, these findings have shown that the physical living environment has contributed to the building of community ties, and residents' social well-being."
It added that it is studying how flat designs can support changes in the future of work, including "trends that may have been accelerated by the current pandemic, such as telecommuting".
READ: HDB launches roadmap for designing towns, with focus on healthy living, green spaces and smart technology
HDB reiterated that under a design roadmap launched last year, it will plan towns that "contribute to the overall health and well-being" of residents.
"This includes developing smart and sustainable homes, starting with the smart-enabled housing precincts in Punggol Northshore and Tengah, to make daily living more convenient and comfortable for residents," it said.