Public Housing in Singapore
 
Public housing in Singapore is uniquely different. Home to over 80% of Singapore's resident population, and with about 90% of these resident households owning their HDB flat, it is one of Singapore’s national pride. Here is a list of several developments that have made, and continue to make, Singapore's public housing programme one of the nation's most renowned achievements. To find out more about Singapore’s public housing programme, see:

The Home Ownership for the People Scheme
Use of CPF for Public Housing
Home Protection Scheme
Cost Effective Designs
First Prefabrication Contract
Estate Renewal
Adding Variety and Choice – Involving the Private Sector
Help for First-Timers
Help for Second-Timers
Help for Couples comprising First-Timer and Second-Timer
Housing Projects of Significance
Promoting Strong Family Ties
Sustainable Development
Catering to Changing Needs
Introduction of HDB Loan Eligibility Letter
Quality Assurances – Assure 3
Remaking Our Heartland
Roadmap for Better Living in HDB Towns
Launch of New Housing Areas

The Home Ownership for the People Scheme
In 1964, the government introduced the Home Ownership for the People Scheme to give citizens a tangible asset in the country, a means of financial security and a hedge against inflation. This push for home ownership also helped in the overall economic, social and political stability of the country.

Use of CPF for Public Housing
In 1968, the government allowed the use of Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings to pay the downpayment and service the monthly mortgage loan instalments. This helped more become home owners.

Home Protection Scheme
In 1981, the Home Protection Scheme, administered by the CPF Board, was implemented to ensure that dependants of HDB flat owners would not lose their homes because of a default in loan repayments, in the event of death or permanent incapacity of the sole breadwinner.

Cost-Effective Designs
Early HDB flat types were designed to be simple and utilitarian, to optimise space usage and to keep costs low. The ease of construction was another important factor as homes were needed to be completed quickly to re-house the population still living in unhygienic squatter settlements.

The early HDB flat types available were: Over the years, better-designed flats have been built to meet changing needs and tastes, but affordability and functionality continue to be emphasised. To view flat types that are available now, please click here

First Prefabrication Contract
In 1980, the first prefabrication contract was awarded to build 3- and 4-room flats in Hougang, Tampines and Yishun. Prefabrication technology, which involves the production of building components off-site and assembling them on-site, would prove indispensable to HDB's building programme as it greatly reduced dependence on manual labour and increased site productivity. The Pinnacle@Duxton achieved engineering breakthroughs where almost the entire 50-storey building was modularised and prefabricated off-site.

Estate Renewal
Besides building better quality flats in new housing estates, old HDB estates are being renewed through the Estate Renewal Strategy. This comprehensive and coordinated approach covers the Main and Interim Upgrading Programmes, the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS), the Lift Upgrading Programme (LUP) and other aspects of improvement for older estates such as modernising the town centres, adding or upgrading community facilities and improving the road and transportation network.

In Aug 2007, the Main Upgrading Programme was replaced by the Home Improvement Programme (HIP). Under the HIP, more options for the elderly were introduced from July 2012. These improvements come under the Enhancement for Active Seniors (EASE) programme, and aim to create a safer and more comfortable living environment for the elderly. Besides offering EASE with HIP from July 2012, EASE (Direct Application) was also piloted at Bukit Merah and Kallang/Whampoa Towns where there are a high number of senior residents. From March 2013, EASE (Direct Application) is offered to HDB flats in all towns. To find out more about EASE (Direct Application), please click here.

In August 2007, the Interim Upgrading Programme (IUP) Plus was replaced by the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme (NRP). It focuses on block and neighbourhood improvements and is implemented on a larger area basis of 2 or more contiguous precincts, with a stronger emphasis on community engagement and consultation.

Adding Variety and Choice – Involving the Private Sector
The Design, Build, and Sell Scheme (DBSS) was announced in March 2005 under which the private sector designs, builds, and sells HDB flats. The scheme allows private developers to play a part in providing public housing, while providing more choice and variety for HDB buyers. The first DBSS project, The Premiere@Tampines, was launched in 2006. A total of 13 projects have been launched in various locations across Singapore. In July 2011, the DBSS was suspended pending a review of its continued relevance.

Help for First-Timers
The Additional CPF Housing Grant (AHG), introduced in 2006, helps to ease the financial burden of low-income families buying their first flat. Two rounds of enhancement were made in 2007 and 2009 to increase the subsidy quantum to eligible income groups and to extend the coverage to the lower-middle income groups. Currently, families earning not more than $5,000 a month can qualify for AHG of up to $40,000. The Special CPF Housing Grant (SHG), which is given over and above the regular housing subsidy and the AHG, was introduced in March 2011 to help low-income families purchase their first flat. Families earning between $1,501 and $2,250 can qualify for a SHG of up to $15,000 if they buy a 2-room or 3-room standard flat in the non-mature estates from HDB. Those earning not more than $1,500 can qualify for a SHG of $20,000 if they buy a 2-room standard flat in the non-mature estates from HDB.

In July 2012, the SHG of $20,000 was extended to those earning not more than $1,500 to buy a 3-room standard flat in non-mature estates from HDB. This enhancement was to expand the housing options available to low-income families who need more space, and can afford a larger flat, with the help of government subsidies.

The SHG was further enhanced from the July 2013 sales exercise, to benefit first-timers earning up to $6,500 per month and for the purchase of up to 4-room flats (standard or premium) in non-mature estates. To find out more about CPF Housing Grants, please click here.

HDB has also introduced the Parenthood Priority Scheme (PPS) in January 2013, under which 30% and 50% of the flat supply under BTO and the Sale of Balance Flats respectively are set aside for allocation to first-timer families with at least a Singapore child aged below 16 years old. Divorcees will also be eligible to apply for such priority. The PPS was extended to expected married couples who are first-timers from the May 2013 Sales Exercises. Get more details on the Parenthood Priority Scheme here.

In January 2013, the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS) was introduced to provide an affordable housing option for first-timer married couples with children who need temporary housing while waiting for the completion of their new HDB flats. In April 2013, the scheme was extended to include those without children. Families with a citizen child below the age of 16 will however enjoy priority allocation. To find out more about the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme, please click here.

Help for Second-Timers

From the May 2013 sales exercise, the quota of 2- and 3-room BTO flats for second-timers in non-mature estates will be doubled from 15% to 30%. Out of the 30% quota, 5% will be set aside for second-timers who are divorced or widowed with children below 16, under 'ASSIST'.

From March 2013, the time bar for divorced persons to each apply for a subsidised flat was also revised from 5 to 3 years. Consent has to be sought from the ex-spouse if one party wishes to buy a subsidised flat within 3 years from the date of the divorce, unless he or she has been awarded legal custody, care and control of all children who are below the age of 18 at the time of divorce.

To find out more about these revised measures regarding help for second-timers, please click here. From the July 2013 sales exercise, a new Step-Up CPF Housing Grant was introduced to help families in subsidised 2-room flats in the non-mature estates upgrade to 3-room standard flats in the non-mature estates. Find out more about CPF Housing Grants here.

Help for Couples comprising First-Timer and Second-Timer
From the July 2013 sales exercise, a couple comprising a first-timer and a second-timer applicant will enjoy the same priority in flat allocation as families comprising two first-timers.
The priority for first-timer families include a higher proportion of flat supply set aside for first timers, additional ballot chances and eligibility for schemes such as the Parenthood Priority Scheme and Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme. This change will help singles who subsequently marry after buying a 2-room BTO flat, to purchase their new matrimonial flat. It will also benefit reconstituted families comprising a first-timer and a second-timer applicant, such as divorcees who remarry.

Housing Projects of Significance

The Pinnacle@Duxton
This special housing project is located at historically significant Duxton Plain, where the first two HDB blocks in the area were built. The result of an international design competition, The Pinnacle@Duxton is HDB’s first 50 storey development with unique features like sky bridges, an integrated carpark, and a host of commercial and social facilities.

The project won the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Award for Excellence in June 2011, joining 16 other regional winners vying for the global award. It went on from being among the best in the Asia-Pacific region to one of the five best global developments.

The Urban Land Institute (ULI) Global Awards for Excellence in October 2011, recognises the full development process of a project as well as design in an urban setting. The Pinnacle stands out as an example of how HDB confronts the challenges of meeting housing needs in an urban setting, with innovative solutions that address the social, physical and economic issues of public housing.

The Pinnacle@Duxton is HDB's first residential project with sky bridges connecting sevel residential blocks at sky level. These bridges form part of the outdoor sky garden equipped with amenities for recreational purposes, providing communal spaces for residents. The Pinnacle@Duxton had transformed Singapore's landscape and marked a significant milestone forward in the journey of Singapore's public housing.

Treelodge@Punggol

HDB launched its first eco-precinct, Treelodge@Punggol in March 2007, incorporating a good spread of environmental features which respect nature and use proven green technologies, and which focus on effective energy, water and waste management. The completion of the project in Dec 2010 also marked a significant milestone in HDB’s 50 years of housing a nation, during which the one-millionth flat was built.

The successful implementation of the eco-precinct has set the direction for HDB towards environmentally friendly designs for future projects, bringing it a step closer to achieving environmental sustainability. Many of its green features have since been incorporated in new public housing developments. The project bagged the Chicago Athenaeum’s Green GOOD Design Award 2010, FuturArc Green Leadership Award 2011 'Residential Architecture - Multiple Houses' and the IES Prestigious Engineering Achievement Awards 2011. These awards recognise Treelodge@Punggol in promoting good quality in sustainable design.

My Waterway@Punggol

My Waterway@Punggol, completed in October 2011, is Singapore’s first man-made waterway by HDB. The completion of My Waterway@Punggol marks a significant milestone in realising the Punggol 21-plus vision to transform Punggol into ‘A Waterfront Town of the 21st Century’.

The project has won numerous awards, with the latest being the Chicago Athenaeum’s International Architecture Award 2013 and the Minister's R&D Award 2013 (Distinguished Award) during the MND 2nd Urban Sustainability R&D Congress in June 2013, adding on to its previous medals – the Gold award in the Public Infrastructures/Amenities category at the prestigious FIABCI Prix d’Excellence Awards in May 2013, the ASEAN Outstanding Engineering Achievement Award in Dec 2012, the Gold Award in the Built Project Category for the International Awards for Liveable Communities (LivCom) in November 2012, the International Water Association Superior Achievement Award and Global Grand Winner in the planning category in Sep 2012, as well as the 2012 Grand Prize for the Excellence in Environmental Engineering Award in the Environmental Sustainability Category in April 2012. My Waterway@Punggol stands out as a good example of how HDB supports and enhances the quality of life in our living environment and achieves a long-term balance of environmental stewardship, economic development and social well-being.

Family-Friendly Housing Schemes in Dawson
In December 2009, two new family-friendly housing schemes were piloted in Dawson estate each catering to the different needs of residents.

The Flexi-Layout Scheme in SkyVille@Dawson offers flexibility to families with varying configurations of internal layouts, in accordance to lifestyle needs. Each flat is designed with a flat floor, beam-free ceiling and structural columns located along the perimeter of the flat.

The Multi-Generation Living Scheme in SkyTerrace@Dawson allowed parents and married children to buy paired flats, such as a 4-room flat with a Studio Apartment or a 5-room flat with a Studio Apartment. Privacy concerns also factor in this cosy living arrangement with the flats designed as two separate units with interconnecting doors.

Promoting Strong Family Ties
The Multi-Generation Living Scheme has since been enhanced. From March 2012, the Multi-Generation Priority Scheme (MGPS) gives priority allocation to parents and their married children who submit a joint application to purchase paired flats in the same BTO project. Applicants have the option to select from a pool of pre-identified flats spread across various housing estates.

In August 2013, HDB announced plans to pilot a new type of Three-Generation (3Gen) flats to cater to multi-generation families living under one roof. The first project with about 80 units of 3Gen flats will be launched in Yishun in the September 2013 sales exercise.

The Married Child Priority Scheme has also been enhanced from March 2012 with HDB further increasing ballot chances for parents and married children who apply to live together under one roof.

Sustainable Development
HDB launched its first eco-precinct, Treelodge@Punggol in March 2007, incorporating a good spread of environmental features which respect nature and use proven green technologies, and which focus on effective energy, water and waste management. With greater awareness for the environment, it will bring about greater conservation efforts for a greener environment. The successful implementation of the eco-precinct will also set the direction for HDB towards environmentally friendly designs for future projects, bringing it a step closer to achieving environmental sustainability.

Catering to Changing Needs

Flats for Singles
First-timer singles aged 35 and above, and who earn up to $5,000 monthly are able to buy new 2-room standard flats in non-mature estates directly from HDB, with effect from the July 2013 sales exercise. Up to 30 percent of the 2-room flat supply offered at these estates will be allocated to singles. Eligible singles buying BTO flats will also be able to enjoy the Addiitonal CPF Housing Grant (AHG) and Special CPF Housing Grant (SHG).

In July 2013, the Government also extended the AHG to singles buying a resale flat in the open market, on top of the CPF Housing Grant that they will be getting. To find out more about the policies affecting singles, please click here.

Offer of 2-/3-Room Flats under BTO system
HDB resumed the building of 3-room flats and offered for sale such flats under the BTO system in 2004. There was strong demand for 3-room flats due to changing demographics, as families begin exploring the option of right-sizing to a smaller flat. HDB also launched the first batch of new 2-room flats for sale under BTO system at Fernvale Vista in Sengkang in 2006.

Launch of Studio Apartments
A major challenge is to meet the specific housing needs of a greying population. As a start, Studio Apartments were launched in 1998 to provide another housing option for those aged 55 years and above. Customised for independent and elderly living, these apartments come with elderly-friendly and other safety features.

In March 2012, the Ageing-in-Place Priority Scheme (APPS) was introduced to help elderly age-in-place. The APPS supported senior citizens who wish to right-size to a studio apartment while remaining in their current town, so they can age-in-place in a familiar environment. Elderly who applied for a Studio Apartment near/ with their married children also enjoyed additional ballot chances. Since May 2013, the APPS and MCPS for Studio Apartments were merged to form a quota-based Studio Apartment Priority Scheme (SAPS), where 50% of the Studio Apartment supply in BTO and Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercises will be reserved for eligible applicants. These changes were implemented from the May 2013 sales exercise. To find out more about the SAPS, please click here.

Launch of Home Office (HO) Scheme
With effect from 10 June 2003, all homeowners are allowed to conduct small-scale businesses in their homes under the Home Office (HO) Scheme.

The scheme allows flat owners the flexibility to work from the comfort of their own homes. It will help to reduce start-up costs of small businesses that choose to operate from home rather than rent separate office premises. The scheme will also save commuting time and expenses, and enable residents to spend more time with their families.

Flat owners must ensure that their businesses do not cause disturbance to neighbours or to the residential neighbourhood to ensure that the residential ambience and character of housing estates is not compromised.

Monetisation Options
HDB introduced various schemes to provide greater flexibility for flat owners to monetise their flats when needed, for example when they retire or need extra cash.

  • Subletting of Flat Policy

  • Singapore Citizen flat owners* are allowed to sublet their flat after meeting the Minimum Occupation Period (MOP). This is to help flat owners who needed to earn supplementary income, to be able to do so from subletting. It also allowed for more rental housing options for people who are not ready to buy their own flat yet.

    The MOP to sublet their flats is three years for Singapore Citizen flat owners who purchased their flat before 30 August 2010^ from the open market without any housing grants and five years for all other Singapore Citizen flat owners.

    With effect from March 2013, the maximum approved subletting period of flats and rooms involving non-citizen subtenants# (excluding Malaysians) was reduced from 3 years to 1.5 years. This applies for all new and renewal of HDB tenancy agreements.

    For more information on subletting of flats, please click here.

    *Singapore Permanent Resident flat owners are not allowed to sublet their flat.
    ^ Based on date of application to purchase flat as received by HDB

  • Lease Buyback Scheme (LBS)

  • HDB introduced the Lease Buyback Scheme (LBS) in 2009 to help eligible lower-income elderly households in smaller flats to unlock their housing equity to enhance their retirement income.

    With effect from 1 February 2013, the Lease Buyback Scheme was enhanced to further help lower-income elderly households by lowering the CPF top-up requirement, relaxing the eligibility criteria to allow more elderly to qualify and increasing the LBS bonus from $10,000 to $20,000 per household (the $20,000 will be given in cash).

    For more information on the Enhanced Lease Buyback Scheme, please click here.

  • Right-sizing Your Flat

  • If you own a bigger flat type, you can sell the existing flat and buy a smaller flat that is either a:
    • Smaller and cheaper flat from the resale market, or
    • Smaller flat from HDB, such as a Studio Apartment (SA), 2- or 3-room flat

  • Silver Housing Bonus
  • The Silver Housing Bonus (SHB) was implemented on 1 Feb 2013 to provide additional help for lower-income elderly households who right-size from a larger HDB flat or low-value private property to a 3-room or smaller HDB flat, or Studio Apartment (SA). These eligible elderly households can apply for the SHB and receive up to $20,000 cash bonus per household by using some of their net sale proceeds to top up their CPF Retirement Account and join CPF LIFE.

    For more information on the Silver Housing Bonus, please click here.


    Introduction of HDB Loan Eligibility Letter
    Since January 2007, flat buyers who want to obtain an HDB loan to buy a new flat, including DBSS flats or resale flats must have a valid HDB Loan Eligibility (HLE) letter before committing to a flat purchase. The introduction of the HLE letter was part of HDB’s effort to encourage financial prudence and forward planning among flat buyers.

    Quality Assurances - Assure 3
    With the many quality improvements made over the years to HDB homes, HDB implemented Assure 3 in April 2005. Assure 3 is a new warranty that goes beyond the previous 1-year Defects Liability Period. It covers three types of defects for new flats – a 5-year warranty for ceiling leakage and external water seepage, and a 10-year warranty for spalling concrete.

    Remaking Our Heartland
    During the National Day Rally in August 2007, the government offered a vision of a first-class living environment with attractive and innovative homes, where communities thrive and live modern lifestyles. The launch of the Remaking Our Heartland (ROH) Exhibition showcased plans to realize the vision for new towns, rejuvenate middle-aged towns and regenerate old estates.

    The first 3 towns - Punggol, Yishun and Dawson estate in Queenstown were selected to encapsulate this vision. Under Batch 2 of the ROH plans, another 3 areas are set to be rejuvenated under the ROH blueprint - Hougang, East Coast and Jurong Lake. These areas will be given makeovers drawing from their distinctive qualities unique to their location, history and geography.

    Transformation works are well in progress for these towns under the ROH initiative, with the developments and rejuvenation plans at various stages of implementation over the next few years.

    Roadmap for Better Living in HDB Towns

    In November 2011, HDB announced its “Roadmap for Better Living in HDB Towns”. It will set out the key priorities for HDB’s professional focus over the next 5 to 10 years to deliver a better living environment for HDB residents.

    The Roadmap embraces sustainable urban design, liveability, social mobility and community engagement, and is underpinned by three key thrusts:
    a) Well-designed Towns,
    b) Sustainable Towns
    c) Community-centric Towns

    For more information on the Roadmap, click here.

    Launch of New Housing Areas
    In August 2013, HDB unveiled the broad development plans for three new housing areas which feature new urban design concepts. Together, they exemplify HDB's efforts in providing well-designed, sustainable and community-centric towns, in line with HDB's "Roadmap for Better Living in HDB Towns".
    The plans for Bidadari, Tampines North and Punggol Matilda will capitalise on the areas' individual distinctive character, building on their history, distinctive local flavour and features. Community spaces will also be provided to encourage interaction and cultivate strong community bonds.
    The developments are slated to kickstart within the new few years.

Last Updated on 23 Sep 2013