HDB History and Towns

The HDB story began with it taking over from its predecessor, the Singapore Improvement Trust. Persevering through challenges, HDB has since established public housing in Singapore as a benchmark of excellence.

Beginning Blueprint

In 1960, there was a housing crisis in Singapore. Many people were living in unhygienic slums and crowded squatter settlements. Only 9% of Singaporeans lived in government flats, while others yearned for a place to call home.

The Housing & Development Board was thus set up on 1 February 1960, tasked to solve Singapore’s housing crisis.

HDB sprang into action, and in less than 3 years, it had built 21,000 flats; 2 years later, that number was 54,000. Within a brief span of 10 years, HDB built a sufficient number of flats for Singaporeans and resolved the housing crisis. 

Supporting Pillars

For HDB to successfully meet the difficult goals set out, it needed a sound public housing strategy. This strategy was defined by 3 crucial fundamentals:

  • The concept of a sole agency
    A sole agency in charge of public housing enabled more effective resource planning and allocation. This concept made it possible for us to secure the land, raw materials, and manpower for large-scale construction to optimise results and achieve economies of scale.
  • A total approach to housing
    By adopting a total approach covering planning and design, land assembly, and construction, the housing task was carried out as a seamless whole – through allocation, management, and maintenance.
  • Strong government support
    Support from the government in the form of political and financial commitment, complemented by legislation, helped put early public housing on the right track quickly, which made housing the nation that much smoother and fruitful a journey.

Landmark Housing

HDB is now home to more than 80% of Singapore’s population, across 23 towns and 3 estates. Having completed more than 1 million flats and housed an entire nation, we believe there is more that we can do to build new-generation housing and smart, sustainable towns. We will continue to serve to the best of our abilities to create the best possible living environment where communities can thrive.