Sunday, March 29, 2009

HDB lease buyback scheme draws interest

Madam Cheng Ai King has lived in the same three-room Housing Board flat in Serangoon Central for the last 23 years.

At 67, she still works as a school canteen helper, earning $30 a day.

She could use some extra cash, but she has no wish to leave the familiarity of her neighbourhood.
'I have lots of good neighbours and my flat is conveniently located,' said Madam Cheng, who lives alone now, after her three grown children moved out.

So, when HDB officers at a community event told her about a new scheme that will give her an income for life, and allow her to stay on in her home, her interest was piqued.

This Lease Buyback Scheme was launched on March 1, and the HDB has been on an outreach drive since, to get elderly residents to understand how it works.

Eligibility is limited to those aged 62 and above, and living in three-room flats or smaller.
About 25,000 households are eligible. Under the scheme, the HDB will buy back the tail-end of a flat's lease at market rate, leaving a 30-year remaining lease.

A home owner under the scheme receives upfront a lump sum of $5,000 and a certain monthly annuity payout for life.

Yesterday, about 400 seniors were at Toa Payoh West Community Club to meet Education Minister and MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, Dr Ng Eng Hen.

Dr Ng, who is also Second Minister for Defence, said the scheme would be useful for older Singaporeans who may have stopped working early or did not have an opportunity to save enough in their Central Provident Fund accounts.

'Some used their money for their homes, some helped their children to buy homes. They may not have a steady income for life.'

Dr Ng said many residents told him on his rounds that they are comfortable where they are and do not wish to move or downgrade to a smaller flat.

Some value their privacy and do not wish to sublet rooms. 'If they don't like the other options, this is very attractive,' he said.

HDB will run exhibitions at six other locations in the next month, including MacPherson, Queenstown and Kaki Bukit.

Source: Straits Times, 28 Mar 2009

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