Singapore is exploring how to prioritize access to public housing for people with urgent needs

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SINGAPORE: Singapore is exploring ideas and looking at how to further prioritize access to public housing for those with more pressing housing needs, even within the first-time group, said National Development Minister Desmond Lee.

This involves looking at ways to keep public housing accessible and affordable.

Mr Lee spoke on Sunday (November 20) at the Ministry of National Development (MND) and National Youth Council (NYC) Forward Singapore engagement.

In his opening remarks, he said young adults have expressed concerns about the availability of affordable public housing amid fierce competition and high application rates.

On apartment supply, he said the Housing and Development Board (HDB) has been working hard to accommodate construction delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years.

The number of Build-To-Order (BTO) projects delayed by six months or more has dropped from more than 80 percent of all projects in 2021 to less than 50 percent today.

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Supply of BTO flats has also ramped up, Mr Lee added, citing a “bumper crop” of nearly 10,000 HDB flats across 10 different projects during this month’s BTO sales launch.

Most of the BTO units are also reserved for those purchasing their first HDB flat.

Mr Lee said some first-timers may not be successful with their ballots as they may be applying for flats in mature estates or in Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercises where application rates are “very high”.

“I understand that young couples may have location preferences. They want to stay close to their parents for mutual care and support,” Lee said.

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Moreover, the preference for apartments in the mature estates could stem from previous beliefs about better facilities and transport networks in these mature estates.

“However, as the ‘non-adult’ estates mature and the lines between them and the ‘mature’ estates become blurred, such differences may become less relevant,” he said, adding that Singapore is currently reviewing whether the classification of the estate needs to be adapted. adapted to keep up with the times.

But Mr Lee said most people agreed that the housing priority should be with people looking to buy their first home.

“Even within the new applicants, however, Singaporeans recognized that their housing needs were of varying degrees of urgency,” he said.

Most agreed that starter couples who already have children but don’t own their own home should be given priority over those who are existing homeowners, he said.

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Most people also agreed that lower income families should receive more support and priority. At the same time, it was pointed out that seniors and single people also have real needs that need to be taken into account.

“We are studying all of these ideas and how to further prioritize access to social housing for people with more pressing housing needs, even within the first-time population.

“But as you can see, it’s not easy to reach a consensus on how we define whose needs are more urgent, as evidenced by the immediate tensions seen in the suggestions we’ve received,” Lee said.

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