Evolution of Public Housing Options for Singles Over the Years
On a landmark day in August 20, 2023, during his National Day Rally, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced a new stride forward for home ownership for singles in Singapore. He announced that singles would now have the opportunity to apply for a new two-room flexi Build-To-Order (BTO) flat across all locations.
PM Lee underlined the importance of addressing housing needs for single individuals, acknowledging the growing trend of choosing a single lifestyle while aspiring to own a home with diverse housing options. This pivotal moment exemplifies a journey of twists and turns in housing support for single Singaporeans.
Let’s delve into this journey through the decades.
1964 – In 1964, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) introduced the Home Ownership for the People Scheme, aimed at offering Singaporeans a tangible stake in the nation-building process through home ownership. However, it came with a caveat: eligible buyers had to be part of a family with at least two members, leaving singles in the lurch.
1974 – The landscape began to shift in 1974 with the establishment of the Housing and Urban Development Company (HUDC), designed to accommodate those who sought larger and better-equipped homes than public HDB flats but couldn’t afford private condominiums. Crucially, singles were allowed to purchase these units, marking a pivotal moment in housing access for singles.
1980 – In 1980, singles were given the green light to use their Central Provident Fund (CPF) to buy HUDC flats, further expanding housing options for unmarried citizens.
1981 – However, a change in tide occurred in 1981 when then National Development Minister Teh Cheang Wan expressed concerns about “wastefulness” in allocating single individuals, rather than couples, flats. As a result, restrictions were imposed, and singles under 40 were relegated to a waiting list, only allowed to purchase when they formed a family.
1982 – By 1982, HDB took over the management of HUDC flats, consolidating its control over this housing category.
1991 – Fast forward to 1991, a pivotal year when the government introduced the Single Singapore Citizen Scheme. This scheme opened the door for singles aged 35 and above to purchase resale flats limited to three-room and smaller units at selected locations, signaling a significant improvement in housing options for singles.
1998 – In 1998, CPF Housing Grants were extended to singles, enabling eligible first-time homeowners with an average gross monthly household income not exceeding S$7,000 (US$5,152) to purchase resale flats on the open market.
2001 – The year 2001 marked another milestone as singles gained the ability to buy three-room and smaller resale flats in all locations, expanding their choices further.
2004 – In 2004, Prime Minister Lee announced a breakthrough: singles were granted permission to buy four-room and larger resale flats in all locations, a decision that broadened the horizons of housing opportunities for singles.
2013 – The year 2013 witnessed another important development as singles were allowed to purchase new 2-room flexi BTO flats directly from HDB, streamlining the process for unmarried citizens.
2019– In 2019, the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG) was introduced, offering single first-time flat buyers the opportunity to qualify for a housing grant of up to S$40,000, provided their monthly income remained below S$4,500.
2022– In 2022, HDB increased its quota for singles applying for new two-room flexi flats in non-mature estates from 50 percent to 65 percent, demonstrating a commitment to addressing the housing needs of singles.
2023 – The year 2023 saw another boost for singles as the CPF Housing Grant was increased from S$25,000 to S$40,000, further enhancing their ability to own homes.
Looking ahead to 2024, the government is set to introduce a new housing framework that eliminates the mature and non-mature categorization for newly launched BTO flats. Instead, flats will be classified as standard, plus, or prime, each with different subsidies and restrictions. Eligible singles will have the opportunity to apply for a two-room flexi BTO flat in all locations under these new categories. They will also be able to purchase standard or plus flats of any size or acquire a two-room prime flat from the resale market.
The journey of housing access and support for single Singaporeans has been marked by significant progress and transformation over the decades, reflecting the government’s commitment to providing diverse housing options for all its citizens.