Minimum occupation period to be flexible?

SINGAPORE: The minimum occupation period of the Fresh Start Housing Schemecan be “flexible” depending on the progress of the household, said Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs Maliki Osman on Saturday.

Fresh Start Housing, which opened for application on Thursday, is a scheme to help public rental families who once owned a Housing and Development Board flat to afford one again. Upcoming executive condo launches include Yio Chu Kang EC, Inz Residence EC, Choa Chu Kang EC, Anchorvale Lane EC,  while existing ones include Terrace EC, Brownstone EC, The Vales EC, Parc Life , Sol Acres EC, The Visionaire, Bellewoods EC, Signature at Yishun, The Criterion EC, Treasure Crest, Northwave EC Waterwoods EC, Skypark Residences, Wandervale EC, The Amore EC,  Bellewaters EC.

Of the various conditions that comes with the scheme, one calls for applicants to be ready to commit to home ownership and a minimum occupation period (MOP) of 20 years.

Speaking on the sidelines of a visit to an Adapt & Grow career fair held at Bedok on Saturday, Dr Maliki, who is the chair of the Fresh Start Advisory Committee said the MOP is an assurance with families and to “give them a sense of contracting” as they will be receiving a second-time housing grant from the Government.

Dr Maliki said depending on the situation, the authority would be open in allowing those on the scheme to shorten their MOP should their financial and family circumstances improve.

He said: “There’s MOP for commitment, but also there’s a flexibility to look at things at a case-by-case basis. So this I think, will motivate, incentivise and inspire them, so that they can work on (the 20 years) as a first milestone.”

Former homeowner Mdm Jamnah currently lives in a two-room public rental flat with her eight-year-old son A’drian and a teenage daughter. She has not been eligible for a second housing grant to own a home, despite being in stable employment for the past years.

But with the Fresh Start Housing Scheme, there is hope for the 43-year-old to live in a place of her own again.

Mdm Jamnah said she wants a better living environment for her children and the chance to decorate the flat’s interior with her daughter. “We would like to have a very nice kitchen, with cabinets, so everything will all be arranged nicely,” she said.

This sense of ownership is something that the authority hopes to give rental flat families going forward, through the new housing scheme.

The committee will work to support outreach efforts and provide guidance on implementation of the scheme. For a start, Dr Maliki said its priority is to make sure people living in rental units understand the opportunities that are available to them.

About 1,000 families are expected to qualify for the scheme. As for those who may not qualify at the moment, Dr Maliki said various agencies such as Workforce Singapore, Community Development Councils and the Ministry of Social and Family Development will work with the applicants to help them work towards qualifying in the future.

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