Sunday, 26 January 2020

HDB Home Ownership Support Team guides rental flat families in buying their own homes

20 of 200 households assisted on way to home ownership
By Amrita Kaur, The Straits Times, 24 Jan 2020

A scheme that guides and supports families in rental homes to buy their own flats is seeing results.

Out of more than 200 rental households provided help by a Housing Board team, 20 have booked flats or are ready to apply for one, while another 26 should be ready to apply for a flat in the next one to two years, as of Nov 30 last year.

The seven-member Home Ownership Support Team (HST), set up last June, is still in the process of helping the other households, some of which are not yet ready to apply for a flat.

Among those the team has helped is 46-year-old Mr Chua, whose family has selected a three-room Build-To-Order (BTO) flat.

"I wanted to buy a house but I didn't know the various assistance schemes available. An officer from the HST explained the schemes and guided me through a step-by-step process on preparing the documents to apply for the BTO flat," said Mr Chua, who declined to give his full name.

The food and beverage outlet manager has been living in a rented flat in Tampines with his wife and eight-year-old daughter for three years. He will know the results of his BTO application in May.

The HST is guiding him in working out his housing budget and planning his finances so that he will be able to pay his home loans.

HDB estate manager Tan Shimin, a member of the HST, said the team reviews the individual circumstances of each rental household and helps the tenants work out a plan towards home ownership.

"We do a holistic assessment of their circumstances, including their financial health, and check that they are employed and that they do not have medical conditions that require a lot of expenses. Most importantly, they have to be keen on buying a house and have the desire to take ownership of the process to buy a house," said Ms Tan.

The HST has been reaching out to households by calling them, making house visits, as well as putting up posters about the team at the void decks of rental housing blocks.

It also works with different social service agencies and partners to help the families address their challenges and achieve better stability, if they are not found to be ready to own a house.

The setting up of the HST was announced last year as part of a series of measures to mitigate income inequality and uplift lower-income families in a more holistic way.

Prior to its formation, families in rental homes were evaluated on an ad hoc basis, such as when they renew their tenancy every two years.

The HST aims to reach out to 1,000 rental households over the next few years. There are about 50,000 households living in public rental flats currently.

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