THE elderly here have sufficient options for their housing needs and there is no need to give them priority for new flat applications.
Parliamentary Secretary (National Development) Maliki Osman said this yesterday when he revealed that just 4 per cent of applicants for new HDB flats this past year were aged above 55.
He was responding to Dr Lim Wee Kiak (Sembawang GRC), who asked about new measures to deal with the housing demands of an ageing population.
The chances of getting a new flat are currently not based on age but on whether the applicant is a first-timer, Dr Maliki said, and explained that 90 per cent of new flats are set aside for those households setting up homes for the first time.
But he pointed to the various schemes already in place to cater to the housing needs of the elderly.
One option: Studio apartments, which have proven popular with a take-up rate close to 100 per cent. The HDB will be launching another 1,000 such apartments over the next two years. These flats, meant for those above 55, are on a shorter lease of 30 years.
Older Singaporeans can also opt to monetise the value of their flats to support their retirement through the Lease Buyback scheme introduced in March.
Under the scheme, the HDB will buy back the tail-end of a flat's lease at market rate, leaving a 30-year lease for the household. It pays market valuation for the lease and this money goes to the new CPF Life annuity scheme in the flat owner's name. A $10,000 subsidy is also given out - half paid in cash, while the other half goes into CPF Life.
So far, more than 300 have applied for the lease buyback scheme.
Other options open to the aged include downgrading to a smaller flat, renting out their apartment or a room, or selling their flat and living with their children.
Source: Straits Times, 20 Aug 2009