NDR: A home to call our own
MOVIE TITLE: A home to call my own
Starring: Everyone who just missed the qualifying income ceiling for a HDB flat or an EC.
Co-starring: Seniors and low-income families in rental flats.
PLOT: A couple with three children, unable to find a slum or ghetto in Singapore, are forced to move into a elderly relative’s two-room rental flat. With a household income of $13,000 a month, they missed their shot at an executive condominium by $1K. Nor can they afford a Sentosa Cove property. Friction results as their elderly relative resents their presence and laments his own inability to afford his own home. He had downgraded from a five-room flat after he was made a bankrupt. They lived together unhappily until….
REVIEW: There’s just so much news on the housing front, that we’re giving it a five-star rating. The low down is this: Even more people can aspire to own a HDB flat as the monthly income ceiling is going up from $10,000 to $12,000 a month. With this pushed up, the income ceiling for executive condominium has to go up too, from $12,000 to $14,000. In fact, the announcement had been anticipated, with more people thronging the launch of The Brownstone.
There’s also big change in the way Special CPF housing grants will be given out. It used to be limited to those with household income below $6,500, which covers half of all households, and the grant was capped at $20,000. The income ceiling will go up to $8,500 and the grant will go up to $40,000. This is a grant, put into your CPF account, to help you pay off your flat. And it will cover two in three households.
But what was even more heartening was the way the PM seemed determined to help dysfunctional families break the cycle of poverty so that their children would have a shot at a better life. There were families who are now in HDB rental flats but could not afford to own the flat because they had already used up their housing subsidies. Presumably, these are people who had to downgrade for some reason.
They will be given a “fresh start”: a grant to help own their flat. This is a change from the strict adherence to HDB rules on housing subsidies and grants, a sacred cow to ensure fair play for all citizens – two bites of the cherry. PM Lee did not reveal the statistics on how many such families are in such straits, but he went to some length to explain why he wanted to do this.
But there were strings attached. The families must show counselors that they are trying to get back on their feet, by ensuring that their children are put through school, for example.
PM Lee recalled how at NDR2013, while role-playing a real estate agent, he had said that a household earning $1,000 can afford a two-room flat. This time, he said, it would be possible even for those earning less than that to do so.
This shift to the left is much to be welcomed. And it is now for the families to take up that second chance not just for themselves, but also for their children.
This is the second for our National Day Rally coverage. Read the rest of our four-part series on what happened at the National Day Rally on August 23, 2015.
Part 1: 生活费 – Cost of living.
Part 3: Where are you, baby?
Part 4: Space EduCity 2020
Bonus: Dear PM
Text by Bertha Henson.
Photo Illustration by The Middle Ground.
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