Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Singles do get benefits

I REFER to the letter ‘Think about singles too’ by Mr Lua Eng Chuan (Dec 15). HDB’s basic principle underpinning all housing policies is that families get priority over singles.

This is in line with our national objective of encouraging marriage and having children. However, this does not mean that singles get no benefits.

In fact, since 2004, single citizens have been able to buy resale flats and can get an $11,000 grant. Two singles buying a resale flat together can get $22,000. Singles can also qualify for subsidised housing loans.

Furthermore, if they form a family unit with their parents, singles can buy a subsidised new flat directly from HDB, or a Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) or resale flat with a $20,000 grant.

If housing grants are pegged to a percentage of the price of resale flats as Mr Lua has suggested, those who can afford more expensive flats will receive larger subsidies. This will not be fair to those who can buy only smaller flats. It may also feed the market, leading to higher resale prices.

Mr Lua has also suggested allowing singles to buy new two-room flats. Singles are not allowed to buy new flats as the subsidy included in the selling price is for a family of at least two. However, singles can buy a new flat if they form a family unit with their parents. They also have other options as outlined above.

Permanent residents (PRs) do not enjoy any housing subsidy and can buy only from the resale market. They have to abide by HDB rules to sell or sublet their flats – for example, meeting the minimum occupation period.

Not allowing PRs to sublet or sell their flats would be unfair because they, too, paid full market value for their flats.

We thank Mr Lua for his feedback and suggestions.

Lily Chan-Wong Jee Choo (Mrs)
Deputy Director (Policy and Property)
Housing & Development Board

Source: Straits Times, 23 Dec 2009

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