To what extent are the HDB’s policies contributing to ‘housing inequality’ in Singapore?
I refer to the article “Commentary: Direct interventions, not just social mixing, needed to narrow housing inequality” (Channel NewsAsia, Jun 23).
It states that “Housing inequality is also felt through specific rental housing policies. People who need public rental housing face many hardships. The income ceiling of S$1,500 per month has not been raised since 2003, which means it has become much stricter in real terms.
This ceiling directly penalises families with more children because it disregards household size. Space and privacy are persistent issues, as only 1- and 2-room flats are available to rent and the single tenant is required to share a flat with another unrelated person.
Short tenancies of two years create insecurity. Although the tenancies are routinely renewed and evictions are unheard of, tenants are concerned because they have no legal basis to remain in their flats beyond the two years offered each time.
As the building of new rental flats stopped completely between 1982 and 2006, most of the rental housing stock is very old.”
Well, arguably – it may be our “not so compassionate” public housing rental policies which may be contributing to this ‘housing inequality’.
You may like to try this out and experience it for yourself – when you see a homeless person – call the ComCare hotline 18002220000 (you can see posters all over Singapore encouraging you to call when you come across a needy person).
What typically happens next is that the homeless person may be placed in a homeless shelter.
But, generally – the stay in a homeless shelter cannot be indefinite, and is subject to regular review – every three or six months typically.
So, some of the homeless end up homeless again, and their arguably, only long term housing solution is to rent a HDB 1-room rental flat.
But the requirements (which I understand has not changed for decades despite inflation) are that two single men of age at least 35 years old must somehow find each other, and their combined monthly income cannot exceed $1,500.
If you are lucky enough to find another homeless roommate whom you think you can live with – it may be quite difficult to meet the combined monthly income criteria.
Do you agree that such ‘housimg imequality’ policies may need to be reviewed?
Leong Sze Hian