Thursday, May 21, 2009

Granting them a roof over their heads

Enhanced Govt schemes now make owning flats a breeze

HOME for Mr Elmie Samsuri and his wife have been at their parents, or more recently, a Housing and Development Board (HDB) rental flat, for the 10 years that they have been married.

Last year, he applied for a three-room flat five times, but was unsuccessful. The 36-year-old driver believes his income of under $1,000 was “too low”.

“I wasn’t fussy. I tried walk-in selections for Bedok, Tampines and Redhill, because my wife and I are already in our30s and we want a flat of our own,” he said.

But, with HDB further enhancing the Additional Housing Grant (AHG) scheme in February — reducing its two-year continuous employment condition to one —Mr Elmie and his wife have been able to buy their first home — a two-room flat in Fernvale due to be completed in 2011.

“We’re very excited. It’s an investment for a start,” he said.

With success stories like Mr Elmie’s, the Ministry of National Development said in its addendum to the President’s Address that it is encouraged to press on with such policies to make Singapore a liveable city.

Other enhancements to the AHG: Raising the monthly income ceiling from $4,000 to $5,000, thereby increasing “the coverage of the AHG from 50 per cent to60 per cent of resident households” and the maximum grant quantum from $30,000 to $40,000.

Delivery assistant Tan Chee Kian, 38, is another beneficiary, who recently bought a three-room resale flat for $220,000 in Bukit Gombak near his parents’, with the help of a $40,000 Family Grant and $40,000 AHG.

“The grant is good, but flats are very expensive these days. It’ll be more helpful if it is raised to $50,000 or $60,000,” he said.

Five years ago, he had bought a three-room resale flat in the same area for $185,000 on a bank loan, but sold it last year as he felt he could not finance his mortgage on his $1,100 salary.

Were it not for the AHG, he said he was resigned to moving back to his parents’ four-room flat with his homemaker wife and seven-year-old son.

“Without government help, many families can’t afford to buy a flat,” said Mr Tan.

The Government first introduced the AHG in March 2006, to help lower-income citizen families buy their first HDB flat. It was first enhanced in August 2007, when the household income ceiling was increased to $4,000 from $3,000, as was the grant — from $20,000 to $30,000.

After the AHG was further enhanced on Feb 6 this year, the HDB has received some 3,000 applications. About 22 per cent of these are in the household income range of $4,001 to $5,000, and are eligible for the AHG.

Meanwhile, HDB will continue to build more two- and three-room flats. As of March this year, it had launched about 690 new two-room and 2,370 three-room flats for sale in Sengkang, Punggol, Bukit Panjang, Yishun and Woodlands.

The board plans to put out another 2,400 Build-To-Order flats over the next six months, of which about 1,000 willbe three-room and smaller if demand is good. It will also increase the supply of rental flats for those unable to buy their own.
buy their own.

Source: Today, 21 May 2009

No comments:

Post a Comment