SINGAPORE: The Republic’s public housing policies are not just about meeting basic needs, but also about aspirations, said Minister of State for National Development Dr Maliki Osman on Thursday (Aug 27).
Speaking on 938LIVE’s Talkback programme, Dr Maliki said the Housing and Development Board (HDB) has been responding to the needs of a younger generation that wants a new housing landscape.
This was part of the rationale behind the Government’s latest move to raise the income ceiling for purchases of new Build-to-Order (BTO) and Executive Condominiums (ECs), he added. Existing executive condo includes The Terrace EC, the Brownstone EC while upcoming ones include the Signature At Yishun EC and The Criterion EC.
At the National Day Rally on Aug 23, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that the income ceiling to purchase a new BTO flat will be raised from S$10,000 to S$12,000, while the income ceiling for ECs will be raised from S$12,000 to S$14,000.
Dr Maliki said there is a segment of the population that wants to remain prudent, even if they have the financial capacity to purchase private property.
“We are just expanding so that a group who feels that ‘I am not disadvantaged just because I earn more than others’,” he said.
“Because I do want to be prudent, I do want to be able to buy a flat that is within my means because I do have other obligations. I have got kids that I want to raise and I’ve got parents that I want to look after and because of that I don’t want to over commit myself to a property that’s more than what otherwise I have to purchase because I cannot purchase an HDB flat.”
Raising the income ceiling will allow more Singaporeans to enjoy the public housing experience, he added.
FRESH START HOUSING SCHEME
He also touched on the Fresh Start Housing Scheme, which the Prime Minister announced as part of a slew of measures to help families own a home.
Dr Maliki said the scheme is targeted at those who are living in rental flats after having exhausted their buying options. This group does have the potential to become home-owners, if they are able to resolve underlying issues, which could go beyond housing, he added.
In discussing the Fresh Start Scheme, Dr Maliki drew on his experience in pushing through Project 4650.
First started by the South East Community Development Council, the project focuses on residents of rental flats at Block 46 and Block 50 in Bedok South.
He said: “Because a lot of times they think their issue is just housing. You just give me a roof over my head, I’m fine. But I think we need to think long term and many of them do have young children that we need to look at in terms of the future. Living in a rental flat may not be too ideal for these young children.
“So we want to see how we can help these families to get a ray of hope for themselves and their children.”
Acknowledging the complexities and challenges in dealing with such problems, Dr Maliki said that the Fresh Start scheme will ultimately have both tangible benefits as well as intangible benefits, through pride in home ownership.
He also spoke about how his ministry sees the “home versus asset” debate when it comes to public housing. He said: “whether it’s the first home or second home, we want them to see that as a home asset, for them to be able to monetise when they grow old. To be able to then say yes, I can monetise it. The cash that I get, I can use it for my retirement.”