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Assisted living to options for unwed parents: 5 changes HDB is making to make housing more accessible

Assisted living to options for unwed parents: 5 changes HDB is making to make housing more accessible

A HDB block in Singapore. (Photo: Unsplash/syucyann)

SINGAPORE: Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong announced on Wednesday (Mar 4) several measures meant to make housing more accessible to more Singaporeans.

Here are the measures announced by Mr Wong during the Committee of Supply debate:

NO MORE RE-OFFER OF BALANCE FLATS EXERCISES

The Housing and Development Board (HDB) will be doing away with Re-Offer of Balance Flats exercises, meaning that most of the unsold Build-To-Order flats left over from Sale of Balance Flats exercises will be offered for open booking.

This change will help buyers get their homes earlier, noted Mr Wong.

In June 2019, the option of an "open booking" was introduced so those looking to buy a balance flat can view the listing at any time and book a flat from as early as a day after their application.

READ: More housing support for seniors and unwed parents; Re-Offer of Balance Flats exercise to be scrapped

READ: Higher income ceilings, enhanced housing grant for HDB flat buyers

HOUSING OPTIONS FOR UNWED PARENTS

Unwed parents above the age of 35 can purchase a two-room Flexi flat in non-mature estates or a resale flat if they are eligible.

Previously, unwed parents between the ages of 21 and 35 have been allowed to do this, on a case-by-case basis.

Unwed parents over the age of 21 can now also buy a three-room flat in a non-mature estate from HDB, compared to a two-room flat previously.

Unmarried parents can also continue to request to buy a resale flat. Those who cannot afford to buy a flat will be considered for a public rental flat.

"Unwed parents who approach HDB for housing assistance will not be turned away," said Mr Wong.

"We are committed to supporting the efforts of our vulnerable groups, such as unwed parents, to ensure that their children have a stable home to grow up in, and a good start in life."

READ: HDB touts 10-year plan to green public estates

MORE GRANTS FOR SENIORS

Mr Wong announced enhancements to the Silver Housing Bonus and Lease Buyback Scheme that took effect immediately. 

The Silver Housing Bonus, which gives a cash bonus to elderly households who downgrade from a bigger flat to a three-room or smaller flat, will be boosted to S$30,000 up from S$20,000.

The bonus scheme will also be streamlined. 

The amount of top-up required used to depend on the amount of proceeds unlocked. After making a first top-up of S$60,000, seniors may be required to make a second top-up, depending on their remaining proceeds and Retirement Account balances.

Now, seniors will only be required to top up S$60,000 of the proceeds to their CPF Retirement Account to qualify.

Additionally, HDB will remove the requirement for seniors to move from a larger to a smaller flat. As long as their second flat is three-room or smaller, seniors can qualify for the Silver Housing Bonus.

The maximum Lease Buyback Scheme bonus will also be increased to S$30,000.

Owners of three-room flats will now receive the new maximum bonus, up from S$20,000. 

Owners of four-room flats will now receive S$15,000 while owners of five-room flats will receive S$7,500.

Those who have applied for either scheme but have not yet received their bonus will also benefit and will receive the enhanced bonus from April onwards.

READ: Lease Buyback Scheme extended to all HDB flat types from Jan 1, 2019

READ: The Lease Buyback scheme can give singles more housing options, a commentary

ASSISTED LIVING DEVELOPMENT IN BUKIT BATOK 

HDB will launch a new type of development in Bukit Batok in May 2020, centered around assisted living for seniors.

The blocks in the development will be designed to let seniors to age in-place, and include elements such as large communal spaces on every floor, so that residents can gather more conveniently.

The estimated 160 units will be 32 sq m in size and will come with senior-friendly fittings and larger bathrooms, along with other features for those with mobility needs.

More details about the pilot development including information about its service offerings, sales conditions, indicative flat prices and payment options will be shared in the coming weeks.

MORE SUPPORT FOR THOSE WITHOUT DIRECT LIFT ACCESS

Residents in urgent need of direct lift access due to medical conditions or mobility reasons may apply for a S$30,000 Lift Access Housing Grant to buy a flat with lift access, said Mr Wong.

This includes new and resale flats.

There are about 150 HDB blocks where lift upgrading has not been done, due to high costs or site constraints. HDB will continue to explore ways, including new technical methods, to implement lift access to these blocks.

Source: CNA/nh(hm)

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