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Singapore

Singles to be allowed to apply for HDB rental flats without first securing flatmate under new pilot

SINGAPORE: The Housing and Development Board (HDB) will pilot a new housing model to allow singles to apply for public rental flats without first finding a flatmate, said Minister of State for National Development Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim on Thursday (Mar 4).

This comes as part of efforts by authorities to support lower-income households in rental flats, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new pilot will be an “alternative” model of the existing Joint Singles Scheme (JSS), which allows single tenants to pair up and apply for a public rental flat.

Assoc Prof Faishal said that most single tenants are prepared to share the unit with a flatmate, and that this arrangement “enables companionship and mutual support”, which is especially important for older tenants.

“It also allows us to help as many who need a public rental flat as possible, within our limited resources,” he said.

READ: Home-based learning blues: Life in a rental flat during the COVID-19 circuit breaker

Under the current scheme, single tenants are encouraged to apply with someone they know, such as a relative or friend, or they can approach HDB to source for a flatmate.

HDB noted in a press release on Thursday that while “the majority” of Joint Singles Scheme tenants are able to find a flatmate and live together amicably, some may not be able to do so.

Therefore, to give singles another option, this alternative model will be piloted later this year.

HDB will set aside a few floors in a few rental blocks and appoint social service agencies to manage the flats, including the flat-sharing arrangements, said Assoc Prof Faishal.

Examples of social service agencies include New Hope Community Services or Thye Hua Kwan Moral Society.

READ: Commentary: The road to housing for single, unwed mothers is clearer but still bumpy

“The social service agencies will have better expertise to match singles of similar profiles, and to mediate disagreements that may arise.

"If necessary, they can also arrange for individuals to move to another flat,” said Assoc Prof Faishal.

Assoc Prof Faishal added that rents under this new model will be largely similar to that under the Joint Singles Scheme, and tenants will be subject to the same eligibility conditions.

He added that HDB will share more details when ready.

SUPPORT FOR LARGE FAMILIES

Under current processes, families with three or more members living in a one-room flat can request to transfer to a two-room one.     

Families that form two nuclei - such as families with children, parents, and grandparents living together - can apply for another flat and HDB will offer them a second one in the same block if possible, said Assoc Prof Faishal.

To better support these large families, HDB will work with the Social and Family Development Ministry under Community Link (ComLink) to offer three-room rental flats to these families on a case-by-case basis.

“At the moment, we have a very limited supply of such flats, so we will only be able to offer the flats to a small number of families, based on the families’ circumstances,” said Assoc Prof Faishal.

“At the same time, all families with children living in public rental flats will receive holistic support under ComLink to enable them to achieve stability, self-reliance, and social mobility,” he added.

PLANS FOR SECOND PILOT SITE FOR COMMUNITY CARE APARTMENTS

In his speech, Assoc Prof Faishal also outlined other support measures for households in rental flats. These include increased outreach to offer assistance, and one-to-one guidance on the path to home ownership.

He also touched on the Community Care Apartments, a new housing typology with senior-friendly elements and a care subscription package.

It was launched for sale last month, and has received “a very positive response”, with 706 applicants applying for 169 units.

“Given the positive feedback and strong interest, we are studying plans for a second pilot site. We will share more details when ready,” he said.

He added that these pilots will help to further improve the housing and care options for seniors.

“We continue to welcome feedback from seniors, as well as their caregivers and family members,” he said.

Source: CNA/cl

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