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Singapore

Applications open for singles to rent HDB flat without first finding flatmate under new pilot scheme

04:15 Min
Singles who cannot find a flatmate but want to apply for a public rental flat can now do so through a pilot programme, which will pair them with a tenant based on their similarities, among other factors. The Joint Singles Scheme Operator-Run (JSS-OR) pilot, launched on Friday (Dec 17), was first announced in March this year as an “alternative” model of the current Joint Singles Scheme.

SINGAPORE: Singles who cannot find a flatmate but want to apply for a public rental flat can now do so through a pilot programme, which will pair them with a tenant based on their similarities, among other factors.

The Joint Singles Scheme Operator-Run (JSS-OR) pilot, launched on Friday (Dec 17), was first announced in March this year as an “alternative” model of the current Joint Singles Scheme.

Under the existing scheme, eligible singles can apply for a Housing Board (HDB) rental flat with someone they know, such as a friend or relative. They can also approach HDB for a listing of other single people to source for a flatmate. After they find one, they can apply for a rental flat.

Under the pilot programme, singles can apply for the rental flat individually, without first finding a flatmate. An appointed operator of the pilot sites will then match them with another tenant and manage the flat-sharing arrangements.

Eligibility conditions for the pilot are the same as the current Joint Single Scheme: Tenants must be Singaporeans aged 35 and above, with “no family support and no other housing options”, said HDB.

"This arrangement (the Joint Singles Scheme) for singles to share a flat allows HDB to help as many low-income Singaporeans who need a public rental flat as possible, within our limited resources," said HDB.

"It also enables companionship and mutual support, which is especially important for older tenants."

The first tenants are expected to move into their flats by end-January 2022.

OPERATOR APPOINTED TO RUN PILOT AT TWO BLOCKS

Through an open tender, social service agency Good News Community Services has been appointed to run the JSS-OR pilot programme for three years at two sites: Block 429A Bedok North Road and Block 999A Buangkok Crescent.

Within each rental block, “a few storeys” comprising a mix of one- and two-room flats have been set aside for the pilot. Together, the two sites can house about 270 tenants.

HDB said that the flats will come with partitions installed to give tenants more privacy.

“General household furnishings and appliances such as wardrobes, water heater, washing machine, and refrigerator, will also be provided within each flat for tenants’ use,” it added.

HOW WILL TENANTS BE PAIRED UP?

Before allocating flats, the operator will interview prospective tenants to "assess their personalities and needs". A social worker will then pair up tenants based on “similarity and growth”.

“The principle of similarity considers how alike the tenants are in terms of gender, religion, ethnicity, spoken languages, age, lifestyle habits, employment as well as daily routines/ schedules.

“A higher degree of similarity improves the chances of tenants living together amicably,” said HDB.

As for growth, they will consider the potential benefits that the pairing can bring to the tenants in terms of peer support.

"As many of these tenants have no family support, they can benefit from the companionship and support offered by their flatmate," said HDB.

To help build rapport among tenants, the operator will conduct "befriending and bonding activities", while also regularly checking in with them. It will also facilitate sharing sessions for tenants to get to know each other.

HDB added that the operator will “step in to mediate” if there are disputes among tenants.

The rent under the new pilot model will be similar to what tenants pay under the current scheme, along with their share of service and conservancy charges and utilities, said HDB.

As a pilot, the JSS-OR model is currently only open to new applicants, it added.

A tender will be called in January 2022 for another site at Bukit Batok, making it the third under the pilot.

Source: CNA/cl(mi)
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