Tuesday 9 February 2021

4,600 public rental-flat families became HDB home owners over the past 5 years through various housing schemes, grants and Home Ownership Support Team

By 2023, around 1,000 families will be offered the same help by HDB
By Michelle Ng, The Straits Times, 8 Feb 2021

About 4,600 families in public rental homes have become home owners of Housing Board (HDB) flats over the past five years through various housing schemes and grants.

By 2023, around 1,000 families will be offered help by HDB to do the same.

Among the 4,600 households, three in four bought a flat directly from HDB while the remainder bought a resale flat on the open market, said HDB yesterday.

More than half of these rental households bought a three-room flat while a quarter bought four-room flats, it added.

About two-thirds of the rental households that bought a flat had tapped housing grants such as the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG), which was introduced in September 2019 and dispenses up to $80,000 in grants to eligible buyers.

Others had also tapped the previous Additional CPF Housing Grant and Special CPF Housing Grant, which gave up to $40,000 in grants each. These two grants have been replaced by the EHG.

Families with at least one child below the age of 18 who live in public rental flats, and who had previously bought a subsidised flat, can also buy a two-room flexi flat through the Fresh Start Housing Scheme.

Close to 100 families have been placed on the scheme since it started in December 2016, the Ministry of National Development said in a written parliamentary reply last Monday.

There are currently around 50,000 households living in public rental flats.

By 2023, around 1,000 rental households, preliminarily assessed to have the potential and are ready to buy a flat, will be contacted by HDB's Home Ownership Support Team (HST), said HDB.

Factors such as income stability and the household's ability to afford a flat are taken into consideration when HDB makes such assessments.

The HST was set up in 2019 to guide public rental families through their home ownership journey, from planning and budgeting their flat purchase to the time they collect the keys to their home.

As at the end of last year, the team had contacted 654 rental households.

Of these, 50 families have booked flats and 177 families should be ready to apply for a flat in the next one to two years.

The remaining households are in the process of assessment or are not ready to apply for a flat in the near term.

The team will continue to track the progress of the remaining households and help them move on to home ownership, where feasible, said HDB.

Technician Jumali Remin, 43, is among the 4,600 families who are now HDB flat owners.

He and his wife, a childcare educator, and their five children aged between one and nine years old, moved into a four-room HDB resale flat in Punggol last month. They had sought guidance from the HST early last year.

"Initially, we were a little hesitant about whether we could afford a four-room flat, but after working out our finances and budget with the team, we were glad to learn that we could afford one," he said.

"We never imagined we would one day be able to own a flat… It was something we have dreamt about for a long time."

Madam Mehroo Nisha Banu Mohamed, 33, who works part-time as a SafeEntry officer and her husband, a security officer, have booked a three-room Build-To-Order flat in Tengah which will be ready in 2025.

Until then, the couple and their three children - aged seven, 11 and 14 - will live in their two-room rental flat in Bukit Merah.

She said: "Initially, we were not sure whether we could afford to buy our own flat… But with the (HST's) assistance, we understood where we stand and what we could afford."

############## Budget 2022 Debate

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