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4,600 public rental-flat families became HDB home owners over the past five years

SINGAPORE – About 4,600 families in public rental homes have become owners of Housing Board (HDB) flats over the past five years through various housing schemes and grants.

By 2023, around 1,000 families will be offered help by HDB to do the same.

Among the 4,600 households, three in four bought a flat directly from the HDB while the remaining bought a resale flat on the open market, said the HDB on Sunday (Feb 7).

More than half of these households bought a three-room flat while a quarter bought four-room flats, it added.

About two-thirds of the rental households that bought a flat had tapped housing grants such as the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG), which was introduced in September 2019 and dispenses up to $80,000 in grants to eligible buyers.

Others had also tapped the previous Additional CPF Housing Grant (AHG) and Special CPF Housing Grant (SHG), which gave up to $40,000 in grants each. These two grants are now replaced by the EHG.

Families with at least one child below the age of 18 who live in public rental flats, and who had previously bought a subsidised flat, can also buy a two-room flexi flat through the Fresh Start housing scheme.

Close to 100 families have been placed on the scheme since it started in December 2016, the Ministry of National Development said in a written parliamentary reply last Monday.

There are currently around 50,000 households living in public rental flats.

By 2023, around 1,000 rental households who have been preliminarily assessed to have the potential and are ready to buy a flat will be contacted by the HDB’s Home Ownership Support Team (HST) through phone calls, roadshows and other means, said the HDB.

Factors such as income stability and the household’s ability to afford a flat are taken into consideration when the HDB makes such assessments.

The HST was set up in 2019 to guide public rental families through their home ownership journey, from planning and budgeting their flat purchase to the time they collect the keys to their home.

As of the end of 2020, the team has contacted 654 rental households.

Of these, 50 families – or 8 per cent – have booked flats and 177 families – or 27 per cent – should be ready to apply for a flat in the next one to two years.

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The remaining households are in the process of assessment or are not ready to apply for a flat in the near term.

The team will continue to track the progress of the remaining households and help them to move on to home ownership, where feasible, said the HDB.

Technician Jumali Remin, 43, is among the 4,600 families who are now owners of a HDB flat.

Mr Jumali and his wife, who is a childcare educator, along with five children aged between one and nine years old, moved into their four-room HDB resale flat in Punggol last month, after they sought guidance from the HST early last year.

“Initially, we were a little hesitant on whether we can afford a two-room flat, but after working out our finances and budget with the team, we are glad to learn that we could afford one,” he said.

“Having lived in a two-room rental flat for close to a decade, we never imagined that we would one day be able to own a flat… It was something we have dreamt about for a long time and to see it finally materialise is one of the happiest moments of our lives,” he said.

Madam Mehroo Nisha Banu Mohamed, 33, who works part-time as a SafeEntry officer, shared the sentiment. She and her husband, a security officer, have booked a three-room Build-To-Order (BTO) flat in Tengah, which will be ready in 2025.

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Until then, the couple and their three children – aged seven, 11 and 14 – will live in their two-room rental flat in Bukit Merah.

“We never thought that we would be home owners. Initially, we were not sure whether we could afford to buy our own flat… But with the team’s assistance, we had a much better understanding of where we stand and what we could afford, based on our circumstances,” she said.

“Now that we have secured our BTO flat, I am very excited and we are really looking forward to collecting our keys in a few years,” she added.

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