Singapore’s initial entry into the modern era was characterized by a problem in the housing sector. During its earliest days, residential zones were created in accordance with its tenants. While those in the city were confined to cramped mixed-use shophouses where multiple families had to live together in small spaces, those in the rural areas defaulted to housing that suited their respective ethnicity’s districts. For example, the Malay (or Chinese) residents formed traditional “kampong” villages whilst the Europeans lived in large estates or dwellings similar to those found in the west.
This setting was found to be unsustainable, and so in an effort to address the need for better housing, the Singapore Improvement Trust was established in 1927 by the British colonial government. It was tasked with providing citizens with low cost, affordable housing. However, in the 32 years of its existence, it was only able to produce 23,000 units, falling far short of the country’s ever growing needs.
By the 1950’s-60’s, the housing problem had remained unsolved and only exacerbated itself as time went by. Squatting and tight housing was common practice then, and the lack of high-rise buildings did not help matters.
A Time for Change: The HDB
In 1959, when the People’s Action Party (PAP) took charge, a radical change in the housing sector began. In 1960 the SIT was abolished and changed into the Housing and Development Board (HDB). Despite this, the overall goal remained the same: to provide accessible and affordable housing to Singaporean citizens.
This was done through a plan called the Five Year Building Programme. True to its name, significant advancements were made within the next few years, some of which include the Home Ownership Scheme which let people own their units and the integration of the Central Provident Fund as a viable means of payment.
Progress was slow but present, and rightly enough, by 1965 the housing issue was under control. Strong government support, proper organizational skills from those in charge (such as first chairman Lim Kim San), and public acceptance are to thank for its favorable outcome.
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Singapore’s Housing Today
Since the creation of the HDB (Housing and Development Board) in the 1960’s, approximately 1.1 million units have been built. As of March 31, 2016, up to 992,742 of those units are in use, and more than 80% of the population has adopted these HDB units that are for sale or rent in Singapore. Source
This monumental success is largely attributed to overall convenience and practicality of cost. HDB units are often set up so that they form satellite towns, which means that they can function independently without having to rely on the greater metropolitan area around it. This is possible because it has its own set of conveniences such as schools, markets, recreational areas, and other places that are required for daily living.
That said, SIT’s initial plans of building residential zones around commercial ones were adopted by the HDB, and the results of that decision can be seen all over the country. Places such as Bukit Merah or Geylang are good examples of this planned town concept; all in all, there are 23 similar HDB towns in the country.
In order to get an HDB unit, one must first be legally eligible. The parameters that define HDB eligibility for flats depend on what kind one will get. There are various HDB schemes that can be availed of depending on your situation:
- The Public Scheme: Buy an HDB resale flat with your family.
- The Fiancee/Fiance Scheme: Buy an HDB resale flat for engaged couple with your fiancée/fiance.
- The Orphans Scheme: Buy an HDB resale flat for orphans when you and your siblings are orphans and unmarried.
- The Single Singaporean Citizen Scheme: Buy an HDB resale flat as a single if you are 35 year old or more, single, either unmarried or divorced. This also applies to individuals who are at least 21 and were widowed or orphaned.
- The Joint Singles Scheme: Buy HDB resale flat for joint singles if your are 2 to 4 singles.
- The Non-Citizen Spouse Scheme: Buy an HDB resale flat for Non-Citizen Spouse if your spouse is not an SC (Singaporean Citizen) or an SPR (Singaporean Permanent Resident).
Ohmyhome is the first and only in Singapore that provides a Fixed Rate HDB Buyer Documentation Services after you have found your ideal home. But if you prefer to Do-It-Yourself (DIY), Ohmyhome Mobile App is a free, easy-to-use online platform that allows you to seek out available HDB resale flats in any chosen area.
Download Ohmyhome App and start searching for your next home today.
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