SINGAPORE: The Ministry of National Development (MND) has said that it will not make legislative changes in response to a petition to amend Singapore's housing policy for more inclusive housing policies for single parents.
"The government is committed to housing the nation and ensuring the well-being of our children. However, achieving these goals do not require special legislative exemptions," MND said in its written response to the petition presented to Parliament.
However, the ministry added that it "exercises flexibility" for cases not covered by its policies and can "effect change at a policy level".
The petition was submitted by Member of Parliament for Nee Soon GRC, Louis Ng, in Parliament on Sep 11 on behalf of seven single parents.
The petitioners wanted to include a subsection in the Housing and Development Act, to state that the minister and the board "shall not discriminate against any person with legal custody of a child on grounds of such person’s marital status". Unmarried parents and their children are not recognised as a family nucleus by HDB and cannot buy subsidised flats.
The petition also asked that divorced parents be exempted from rules that debar them from buying or renting another HDB flat for a period after selling their homes.
The response from MND was presented in a report by the Public Petitions Committee, which is chaired by Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin, to Parliament on Wednesday (Nov 29).
The ministry said Singapore’s public housing policies aim to address the needs of Singapore households, without undermining self-reliance and family support.
When help is extended to unmarried parents, the ministry said it’s also mindful not to undermine the prevailing social norm of parenthood within marriage.
“At the same time, it is not possible for our policies to cater to every case and circumstance. Instead, for cases which our policies have not covered, we evaluate them holistically and exercise flexibility to help various households with their housing needs, according to their circumstances.”
MND said this includes helping households headed by single parents to buy a flat within their means, or providing rental housing for those who have no other housing options and no family support.
It said often, families in difficulty face multiple challenges, of which housing is one facet.
“We thus welcome dialogue with organisations who can provide constructive suggestions, and wish to be part of a collective effort to support families in need,” MND added.
The ministry also said that as a party to the United Nations Convention of the Rights of a Child (CRC), Singapore is committed to ensuring that every child can achieve his or her full potential.
“In relation to meeting the housing needs of children with single parents, a range of government agencies work together to ensure that no child is without adequate housing, regardless of whether his or her parents are single or married,” the ministry said.