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Public housing in Singapore

Public housing in Singapore

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Public housing in Singapore is currently managed by the Housing and Development Board. The majority of the residential housing developments in Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

 are publicly governed and developed and about 85% of Singaporeans live in such houses. These flats are located in housing estates, which are self-contained satellite towns with schools, supermarkets, clinics, hawker centres, as well as sports and recreational facilities. There are a large variety of flat types and layouts, catering to a variety of housing budgets. HDB flats were built primarily to provide affordable housing for the masses and their purchase can be financially-aided by the Central Provident Fund
Central Provident Fund
In Singapore, the Central Provident Fund is a compulsory comprehensive savings plan for working Singaporeans and permanent residents primarily to fund their retirement, healthcare and housing needs. It is administered by the Central Provident Fund Board, a statutory board under the Ministry of...

. As Singapore developed economically, changing demands has seen more up-market public housing developments catering to those with higher incomes.

Public housing in Singapore as such is not generally considered as a sign of poverty or lower standards of living as compared to public housing in other countries. Although they are generally cheaper than privately-built homes in Singapore, they are built in a variety of quality and finishes to cater to middle and upper middle income groups. Property prices for the smallest public housing can often be higher than privately owned and developed standalone properties (Townhouse, apartment unit etc.) in other developed countries after currency conversion. Even though the majority of residents live in public housing, very few are below the poverty line.

History


Since the founding of modern Singapore, housing in the fledging colony has been concentrated in the city centre, where the early town plans has stipulated ethnic-based districts built on both sides of the Singapore River
Singapore River
The Singapore River is a river in Singapore with great historical importance. The Singapore River flows from the Central Area, which lies in the Central Region in the southern part of Singapore before emptying into the ocean...

. Housing in the city was primarily in the form of shophouses where multiple families would live in confined spaces. Housing in the suburban areas were often in the form of either traditional Malay (and occasionally Chinese) villages (Kampongs) or large estates and mansions owned by the Europeans or richer locals.

By the 1920s, the chronic housing conditions in downtown Singapore prompted the British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 colonial government to establish the Singapore Improvement Trust
Singapore Improvement Trust
-History:The Singapore Improvement Trust was a government organisation set up in 1927 by the British colonial government in Singapore in response to the housing needs of the population of Singapore. At that time, many people resided in overcrowded shophouses and squatter settlements, resulting in...

 in 1927 to build affordable public housing
Public housing
Public housing is a form of housing tenure in which the property is owned by a government authority, which may be central or local. Social housing is an umbrella term referring to rental housing which may be owned and managed by the state, by non-profit organizations, or by a combination of the...

 for the common population of Singapore. The first forms of mass-built public housing thus appeared in Singapore. Still, the SIT managed to build only 23,000 housing units in its 32 years of existence, and was unable to resolve the worsening housing shortage problem.

Low construction rates and massive damage from World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 further exacerbated the housing shortage. In 1947, the British Housing Committee Report noted Singapore had "one of the world’s worst slum
Slum
A slum, as defined by United Nations agency UN-HABITAT, is a run-down area of a city characterized by substandard housing and squalor and lacking in tenure security. According to the United Nations, the percentage of urban dwellers living in slums decreased from 47 percent to 37 percent in the...

s -- ‘a disgrace to a civilised community'" and the average person per building density was 18.2 by 1947 and high-rise buildings were rare. In 1959, the problem of shortage still remained a serious problem. An HDB paper estimated that in 1966, 300,000 people lived in squatter settlements in the suburbs and 250,000 lived in squalid shophouses in the Central Area
Central Area
In Singapore, the Central Area or Central Business District contains the core financial and commercial districts, including eleven urban planning areas, namely Downtown Core, Marina East, Marina South, Museum, Newton, Orchard, Outram, River Valley, Rochor, Singapore River and Straits View as...

. In its election campaign in 1959, the People's Action Party
People's Action Party
The People's Action Party is the leading political party in Singapore. It has been the city-state's ruling political party since 1959....

 (PAP) recognized that housing require urgent attention and pledged that it would provide low-cost housing for the poor if it was selected; when it won the elections and formed the newly-elected government, it took immediate action to solve the housing shortage. The SIT was dissolved.

The Housing and Development Board (HDB) was established in February 1960 to develop public housing and improve the quality of living environment for its residents. Led by Lim Kim San, its first priority during formation was to build as many low-cost housing units as possible, and the Five-Year Building Programme(from 1960 to 1965) was introduced. The housing that was initially built was mostly meant for rental by the low income group. In 1964, the Home Ownership Scheme was also introduced to help citizens to buy instead of renting their flats. Four years later, the government decided to allow people to use their Central Provident Fund savings as downpayment. However, these efforts were not successful enough then in convincing the people living in the squatter settlements to move into these flats. It was only later, after the Bukit Ho Swee fire
Bukit Ho Swee Fire
The Bukit Ho Swee Fire is a fire that broke out in the squatter settlement of Bukit Ho Swee, Singapore, on May 25, 1961 at 3.20 p.m. Four people died, eighty-five were injured, and 16,000 were made homeless and more than 2,200 attap houses were destroyed...

 on 25 May 1961, which broke out in May 1961, that HDB's efficiency and earnestness won the people over.

The HDB estimated that from 1959 to 1969, an average of 147000 housing units -- 80,000 from the current deficit, 20000 due to the redevelopment of the Central Area, and 47000 due to population increase -- would need to be constructed; an average of about 14000 a year. However the private sector only had the ability to provide 2500 per year, and at price levels out of reach of the low-income. The HDB set out to resolve the deficit. Between 1960 and 1965, the HDB built 54,430 housing units. Due to land constraints, high-rise and high-density flats were chosen. By 1965, HDB was able to overcome the worst of the housing shortage by providing low-cost housing to the lower-income group within the planned period of five years.

Several reasons contributed to the success of the HDB. Firstly, the HDB received very strong support from the government, which allocated a large amount of funds to public housing. The HDB was also equipped with more legal powers such as the power to resettle squatters. The hard work and dedication of Lim Kim San, the first chairman of the HDB, and other members of the board, also contributed to its success.

From 1974 to 1982, the Housing and Development Board built and marketed middle-income apartments, an activity which became a function of the board after 1982. The trend of building increasingly up-market homes has continued every since, and in 1999, the HDB started building executive condominiums, public housing aimed at Singaporeans who do not want a HDB flat but might find private property too expensive. The idea to construct such housing was first mooted in 1995 by then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong who wanted to provide public housing that was more up-market than the executive flats.

Towns and Estates





The first public housing built were in SIT Estates usually located just outside the fringe of Downtown Singapore, such as Tiong Bahru in the Bukit Merah
Bukit Merah
Bukit Merah is a hill in Singapore. Previously, it was a much larger hill that was situated at the present site of Henderson housing estate, which lies opposite the Delta Sports Complex. There was a Chinese cemetery on the reverse side of the hill. The present Bukit Merah Secondary School and...

 area. SIT estates also appeared in Queenstown
Queenstown, Singapore
Queenstown1 is one of the early housing estates in Singapore, built before Toa Payoh and Ang Mo Kio, and was a test bed for much of Singapore's public housing...

 such as in Princess Margaret Estate where construction began in July 1952, and in SIT's early plans for the Estate, the new town
New town
A new town is a specific type of a planned community, or planned city, that was carefully planned from its inception and is typically constructed in a previously undeveloped area. This contrasts with settlements that evolve in a more ad hoc fashion. Land use conflicts are uncommon in new...

 planning concept was evident with their plans to build housing estates around a commercial centre.

When the HDB took over in 1960, they fully adopted the new town planning concept on a large scale, building entire towns from scratch in locations all around Singapore. Queenstown thus became the HDB's model of its version of a New Town, and they developed this further in Toa Payoh
Toa Payoh
Toa Payoh is a district located in the Central Region of Singapore. It commonly refers to the Housing and Development Board housing estate of Toa Payoh New Town, one of the earliest satellite public housing estates in Singapore....

 which was the first town to be built entirely from the ground up by the HDB. Initially, smaller developments, sometimes known as Estates, were built in areas such as in the city centre, Changi Village
Changi Village
Changi Village is a modern village at the north-eastern end of Singapore. The Government of Singapore has pledged in 2005 that they would try to revive the "ghost town".-Hotel:...

, Lim Chu Kang
Lim Chu Kang
Lim Chu Kang is a planning area located in the northwestern part of Singapore.-History:Lim Chu Kang Village was founded by Neo Tiew , a Chinese immigrant who was the sheriff of the village. The village is on the banks of the Sungei Kranji and was controlled by the Lim clan. Neo Tiew also set up a...

, Farrer Park
Farrer Park
Farrer Park is a historic neighbourhood in the central part of Singapore, located at the end of Little India. Farrer Park is defined by the boundary formed by Dorset Road, Hampshire Road and Northumberland Road.-Etymology:...

 and Seletar
Seletar
Seletar is an area of Singapore within its North-East Region. Seletar commonly refers to the areas south of Yishun and west of Sungei Punggol, covering Yio Chu Kang near Jalan Kayu , the Lower Seletar Reservoir and part of Upper Thomson .The Seletar Planning Area, an urban planning zone under the...

, and in larger areas such as in Bukit Timah
Bukit Timah
Bukit Timah is an area in Singapore and a hill in that area. Bukit Timah is located near the centre of the Singapore main island. The hill stands at an altitude of 163.63 metres and is the highest point in the city-state of Singapore...

 and Marine Parade
Marine Parade
Marine Parade is a town and an urban planning area in Singapore directly to the east of the Central Area, Singapore's central business district.-Location:...

, but these has since been halted in favour of concentrating public housing developments only in major HDB towns. Over the years, the HDB began to reorganise the smaller estates and amalgamate them into "HDB Towns", as has been done in Bukit Merah
Bukit Merah
Bukit Merah is a hill in Singapore. Previously, it was a much larger hill that was situated at the present site of Henderson housing estate, which lies opposite the Delta Sports Complex. There was a Chinese cemetery on the reverse side of the hill. The present Bukit Merah Secondary School and...

, Geylang
Geylang
Geylang is a neighbourhood in the city-state of Singapore east of the Central Area, Singapore's central business district. It is located to the east of the Singapore River, an area that locals have associated, from the days of Sir Stamford Raffles, as a Malay kampong opposite facing two islands...

 and Kallang/Whampoa, while Bukit Timah, Marine Parade, and City Centre remain as Estates. Simei
Simei
Simei is a housing estate located in the eastern part of Singapore, situated next to Tampines New Town across the Pan-Island Expressway. The name Simei is pinyin for "four beauties" in Chinese. Initially, the roads in this area was named after the four great beauties in Chinese history...

, sometimes referred to as an Estate and a New Town, has since been amalgamated into Tampines
Tampines
Tampines is the largest residential area in the city-state of Singapore and is located in the East Region of the main island. The town is so named because in the 1900s a large forest of Tampines trees were there....

. Thus, there are now officially 23 "HDB Towns" and three "Other Estates".

While most towns are compact and are contiguous, some towns, especially those incorporating existing developments and the reorganised estates may appear scattered. Two of the best examples of discontinuous new towns built over existing developments include Bishan
Bishan
Bishan is a neighbourhood of the city-state of Singapore situated in the Central Region, measuring approximately three by three kilometres. Primarily a housing estate, Flats here are generally more expensive compared to other estates due to its location in the central region, which commands a...

 and Serangoon
Serangoon
Serangoon is town situated in the central part of the city-state of Singapore, within the North-East Region. The Housing and Development Board housing estate of Serangoon New Town in Serangoon is one of the smaller new towns. Its town centre is known as Serangoon Central, and is the target of...

. Hougang
Hougang
Hougang is an urban planning area and a suburb in the north-eastern area of the city-state of Singapore. Under classification by the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the area is part of the North-East Region, an urban planning division. Hougang borders Sengkang in the north and Serangoon to its...

 also has significant areas of non-public housing use. The reorganised "new towns" of Bukit Merah, Geylang and Kallang/Whampoa are similarly fractured in some places. On the other end of the scale, Jurong East
Jurong East
Jurong East is a neighbourhood in Singapore, bounded by the Pan Island Expressway, a canal and the shoreline of Jurong Lake, Jurong Town Hall Road, the eastern side of Jurong Gardens, Ayer Rajah Expressway, Penjuru Road, West Coast Road, Sungei Pandan and back to the Pan Island Expressway.It is...

, Jurong West
Jurong West
Jurong West is a neighbourhood in Singapore, bounded by the Pan Island Expressway, the eastern edge of Jurong Camp, Boon Lay Way, Corporation Road, Fourth Chin Bee Road, International Road, Corporation Road, Ayer Rajah Expressway, Yuan Ching Road, Boon Lay Way, and along a Canal leading into Jurong...

, Tampines
Tampines
Tampines is the largest residential area in the city-state of Singapore and is located in the East Region of the main island. The town is so named because in the 1900s a large forest of Tampines trees were there....

, Toa Payoh
Toa Payoh
Toa Payoh is a district located in the Central Region of Singapore. It commonly refers to the Housing and Development Board housing estate of Toa Payoh New Town, one of the earliest satellite public housing estates in Singapore....

 and Yishun
Yishun
Yishun, or Nee Soon as it was initially named, is a suburban town in the northern part of Singapore, encompassing the Yishun Planning Area, in the North Region, which includes Yishun New Town and the Nee Soon private residential estate....

 have very little private housing and no landed properties, while towns like Ang Mo Kio
Ang Mo Kio
Ang Mo Kio(宏茂桥) is a heartland new town located in north central Singapore, and is generally within the North-East Region. It contains many of the common features of the island nation's neighbourhoods, e.g. hawker centres, wet markets and HDB housing blocks. Singapore's Prime Minister, Lee Hsien...

, Choa Chu Kang
Choa Chu Kang
Choa Chu Kang is a major residential town and neighbourhood and is a suburban area in the West Region of Singapore...

, Clementi
Clementi
Clementi can refer to:People*Aldo Clementi , Italian composer*Anna Clementi, singer *Cecil Clementi , a British colonial administrator and the Governor of Hong Kong from 1925 to 1930...

, and Woodlands
Woodlands, Singapore
Woodlands, or the Woodlands New Town , is a suburban town in northern Singapore, part of the North West Community Development Council district...

 have only small pockets of landed properties.

When Punggol New Town is saturated, HDB can build flats at Tengah (consisting of big area Brickland Road, Bukit Batok Road, Jurong Road, PIE and Old Choa Chu Kang Road), Simpang (consisting of big military land), Bukit Brown (consisting of Bukit Brown Cemetery), Tebing (consisting of KPE, TPE, Sungei Serangoon and Buangkok East Drive), Bidadari (consisting of Bidadari Cemetery
Bidadari Cemetery
Bidadari Cemetery is a defunct cemetery in Singapore. There were two sections: the Muslim section was at the base of Mount Vernon, bounded by Upper Aljunied Road, Upper Serangoon Road, and Bartley Road; the Christian section was across Upper Aljunied Road from the Muslim section, and bounded by...

) and Seletar New Towns (consisting of housing area, of Seletar Aerospace Park); while it can expand Tampines, Pasir Ris and Choa Chu Kang when every other expanding places is saturated. After the Tengah, Simpang, Bukit Brown and Seletar New Towns, HDB will also choose to build flats in the Western Water Catchment (consisting of Tengeh, Poyan, Murai and Sarimbun Reservoirs), Mandai and Seletar West. Pulau Tekong
Pulau Tekong
Pulau Tekong is the second largest of Singapore's outlying islands with an area of 24.43 km², and the island is still expanding due to land reclamation works on its southern and northwestern coasts which will eventually subsume many of its surrounding small islets, including Pulau Tekong...

 which is originally in Concept Plan 2001, will no longer be a new town and will still be military use.

Based on the new town concept, each HDB town is designed to be self-sustainable. Helmed by a hierarchy of commercial developments, ranging from a town centre to precinct-level outlets, there is no need to venture out of town to meet the most common needs of residences. Employment can be found in industrial estates located within several towns. Educational, health care, and recreational needs are also taken care of with the provision of schools, hospitals, parks, sports complexes, and so on.

HDB towns are typically sub-divided into neighbourhoods, with most neighbourhoods served by a neighbourhood commercial centre. Depending on the size of the town, there can be as many as nine neighbourhoods, to as little as two. Except for the older towns, estates and consolidated towns, most towns use the first digit of their block numbers to indicate the neighbourhood in which the block is located in.

Each neighbourhood is in turn composed of multiple precincts, which are built on the concept of promoting communal exchanges and which are more secure. While older precincts may merely involve dividing rows of identical blocks in relatively close proximity without any other real interaction with each other, newer precincts are designed to physically envelop a common space, or centred around some kind of communal facility such as a multi-storey carpark. While precinct boundaries may be difficult to physically distinguish in older precincts, they are usually obvious in newer precincts through the physical layout of the block and their unique architectural design. Newer precincts (and upgraded older precincts) also often adopt fanciful names reminiscent of private developments to lend an air of class and belonging, although these names are often not used in reality since they are sometimes not displayed and are not part of official addresses.

Block design


Each public housing block is considered a vertical community, with common area built into the design to promote social interaction. Void deck
Void deck
A void deck is typically found under apartment blocks in Singapore. The void deck occupies the ground level, while apartments are usually on the second floor onwards. Void decks are a space for community mingling and functions are often attended by neighbours across the ethnic spectrum...

s, a term unique to Singapore, refers to the first level which are often left devoid of housing units, hence the word "void". These open, sheltered spaces are intentionally left empty to provide convenient spaces for communal activities such as weddings, funerals, parties, bazaars and even as polling stations. Selected blocks would feature a single stand-alone shop, often referred to as "Mamashops" to provide convenient doorstep service. Other common permanent facilities built in void decks may include Residential Committee facilities and offices, kindergartens, medical centres, Neighbourhood Police Posts, fire posts and so on.

Also common especially in older flats are the common corridors, some of which may run across the length of slab blocks. Considered public property, they are rules preventing home owners from occupying and restricting movement, with the exception of units at far ends of corridors who may purchase and incorporate parts of the corridor into their units from the HDB. While these corridors are welcome for being the default interaction areas for neighbours and their children, and the added sense of security due to their open-nature, issues of privacy can crop up, resulting in more contemporary blocks featuring far less units per corridor. Larger units such as 5-room flats are also commonly housed in "Point blocks", which feature only four units per floor.

Early HDB blocks tend to be of a single standard slab design of uniform height, typically averaging 12 storeys and arranged equidistant from each other. Blocks of varied heights were subsequently introduced to reduce the uniformity and to cater to differing tastes, such as the 4-storey block and the 25-storey point-block. Occasionally, a single block of highly unique design would be built to serve as landmarks, such as the 14-storey Forfar House (or Block 39) in Queenstown
Queenstown, Singapore
Queenstown1 is one of the early housing estates in Singapore, built before Toa Payoh and Ang Mo Kio, and was a test bed for much of Singapore's public housing...

 which was the tallest residential building in Singapore upon its completion in 1956, Block 53 in Toa Payoh
Toa Payoh
Toa Payoh is a district located in the Central Region of Singapore. It commonly refers to the Housing and Development Board housing estate of Toa Payoh New Town, one of the earliest satellite public housing estates in Singapore....

 which had a unique 3-sided design, and Block 259 in Ang Mo Kio
Ang Mo Kio
Ang Mo Kio(宏茂桥) is a heartland new town located in north central Singapore, and is generally within the North-East Region. It contains many of the common features of the island nation's neighbourhoods, e.g. hawker centres, wet markets and HDB housing blocks. Singapore's Prime Minister, Lee Hsien...

 with an unusual circular clover-leaf-like design. The slanting roofs of several blocks in Potong Pasir
Potong Pasir
Potong Pasir is an area located between Toa Payoh and Sennett Estate in the North-East Region of Singapore. For urban planning purposes, it is classified under the Toa Payoh area. Potong Pasir is particularly notable for being the longest-held opposition ward in one-party dominant Singapore...

 were considered revolutionary and became instant landmarks for the estate till this day. Today, HDB blocks tend to amalgamate the point and slab block designs, featuring taller blocks but with slightly more units of about 6-8 units per floor.

The façades of public housing blocks has also evolved over time. While the SIT blocks occasionally featured Art Deco designs, the first HDB blocks were typically brutalist
Brutalist architecture
Brutalist architecture is a style of architecture which flourished from the 1950s to the mid 1970s, spawned from the modernist architectural movement.-The term "brutalism":...

. After the initial rush to mass-build flats in the 1960s however, varying façades began to appear in subsequent decades, initially only through subtle variations such as coloured tiles, but which became full-scaled multi-coloured paintwork complete with bright motifs from the 1990s. After several elaborate designs, some of which subsequently presented logistical headaches during maintenance, less subdued and more contemporary designs began to emerge from the 2000s.

Flat types


There are several types of public and semi-public housing available, classified on the basis of the number of rooms and size of the flat. Size is usually denoted by the terms such as four-room, five-room or similar, and is based on the number of bedrooms inclusive of the living room
Living room
A living room, also known as sitting room, lounge room or lounge , is a room for entertaining adult guests, reading, or other activities...

 but newer five-room apartments come with only three bedrooms and a dining room
Dining room
A dining room is a room for consuming food. In modern times it is usually adjacent to the kitchen for convenience in serving, although in medieval times it was often on an entirely different floor level...

.

A three-room flat has two bedrooms in about 70 m² (753.5 sq ft). A four-room flat has three bedrooms with about 90 m² (968.8 sq ft) of space. A five-room is about 110 m² (1,184 sq ft). Some have an extra room that is used as a study; others have a dining area. An executive apartment has three bedrooms and separate dining and living rooms, with 150 m² (1,614.6 sq ft) of space. The largest HDB flats (in terms of floor area) ever built are two-storey Executive Masionettes built in the 1990s which can have floor area ranging from 160 – 190 m², but which are currently no longer constructed.

Semi-public housing like executive maisonette is governed under HUDC last time instead of HDB and have a much larger floor area. Some newer HDB developed flats in new towns include condominium-like finishes.
Early HDB flat types
Flat type Typical size Typical layout Status
1-Room Emergency 23 m² (247.6 sq ft) http://www.hdb.gov.sg/fi10/fi10297p.nsf/ImageView/MAKINGAMARK/$file/1RoomEmer.gif No longer built
1-Room Improved 33 m² (355.2 sq ft) http://www.hdb.gov.sg/fi10/fi10297p.nsf/ImageView/MAKINGAMARK/$file/1RoomImp.gif No longer built
2-Room Emergency 37 m² (398.3 sq ft) http://www.hdb.gov.sg/fi10/fi10297p.nsf/ImageView/MAKINGAMARK/$file/2RoomEmer.gif No longer built
2-Room Standard 41 m² (441.3 sq ft) http://www.hdb.gov.sg/fi10/fi10297p.nsf/ImageView/MAKINGAMARK/$file/2RoomStand.gif No longer built
2-Room Improved 45 m² (484.4 sq ft) http://www.hdb.gov.sg/fi10/fi10297p.nsf/ImageView/MAKINGAMARK/$file/2RoomImp.gif No longer built
3-Room Standard 54 m² (581.3 sq ft) http://www.hdb.gov.sg/fi10/fi10297p.nsf/ImageView/MAKINGAMARK/$file/3RoomStand.gif No longer built
3-Room Improved 60 m² (645.8 sq ft) http://www.hdb.gov.sg/fi10/fi10297p.nsf/ImageView/MAKINGAMARK/$file/3RoomImp.gif No longer built
3-Room New Generation 69 m² (742.7 sq ft) http://www.hdb.gov.sg/fi10/fi10297p.nsf/ImageView/MAKINGAMARK/$file/3RoomNew.gif No longer built
3-Room Model 'A' 75 m² (807.3 sq ft) http://www.hdb.gov.sg/fi10/fi10297p.nsf/ImageView/MAKINGAMARK/$file/3RoomModelA.gif Derivatives still being built
3-Room Simplified 65 m² (699.7 sq ft) http://www.hdb.gov.sg/fi10/fi10297p.nsf/ImageView/MAKINGAMARK/$file/3RoomSim.gif No longer built

Ownership and rental


More than 80% of Singapore's population live in HDB flats, with 95% of them owning their HDB flat. The remainder are rental flats reserved for those who are unable to afford to purchase the cheapest forms of public housing despite financial support.

Singapore maintains a quota system of ethnicities through the Ethnic Integration Policy. By ensuring that each block of units are sold to families from ethnicities roughly comparable to the national average, it seeks to avoid physical racial segregation
Racial segregation
Racial segregation is the separation of humans into racial groups in daily life. It may apply to activities such as eating in a restaurant, drinking from a water fountain, using a public toilet, attending school, going to the movies, or in the rental or purchase of a home...

 and formation of ethnic enclaves common in other multi-racial societies. In practise, while ethnic enclaves were avoided, some towns remained traditionally popular for specific ethnic groups. For instance, towns such as Bedok, Tampines and Woodlands have a slightly larger proportion of ethnic Malays above the national average.

Partly in response to public sentiment against the alleged formation of "PR enclaves", where some flats appeared dominated by PRs from a single nationality, the HDB introduced the Singapore Permanent Resident Quota which took effect on 5 March 2010. Other than Malaysian PRs which were excluded from the quota due to their "close cultural and historical similarities with Singaporeans", all other PRs were subject to a cap of 5% PR households per block.

New flats


The primary acquisition avenue is through the purchase of new flats directly from the HDB. Over the years, various forms of sale programmes has been in place, with the current mode of sale known as the Build-To-Order (HDB) programme launched in 2001. This is run alongside the Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercise which handles the sale of balance flats from earlier BTO exercises, unsold SERS replacement flats and flats which were repossessed by the HDB. The sale of EC and DBSS flats are conducted separately by the respective private developers.

Under the current sales schemes, successful applicants for new BTO flats typically have to wait several years before moving in while the flats were built, since the commencement of construction can only occur when the BTO successfully attains 65~70% sales. Applicants who wish to move in immediately or earlier thus have to participate in the SBF exercise (although some flats may still be under construction) or go for Resale Flats.
HDB Sale of Flats programmes
Programmes Abbrev Start End Remarks
Registration for Flat RFS 1980s Feb 2002 Any surplus units from BTOs, balance BEs or
HDB buy-back schemes through balloting method
Walk In Selection
Walk In Selection
-Overview:The Walk-in-Selection / Balloting Exercise was a Housing and Development Board system that offers a convenient and efficient system that enables eligible flat buyers, particularly those in urgent need of accommodation, to book their choice apartment...

WIS Mar 2002 Feb 2007
Sale of Balance Flats E-Sale Apr 2007 -
Balloting Exercise BE Aug 1995 - Only available for initial large surplus units of SERS
Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme
The Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme, or SERS for short, is an urban redevelopment strategy employed by the Housing and Development Board in Singapore in maintaining and upgrading public housing flats in older estates in the city-state...

Build-To-Order (HDB) BTO Apr 2001 - Buying a new flat with a waiting period of 4 years
Design, Build and Sell Scheme
Design, Build and Sell Scheme
Design, Build and Sell Scheme was introduced by the Housing and Development Board in 2005. Flats built under the scheme are meant for public housing and developed by private developers. They are built with better designs and in sites such as Tampines, Ang Mo Kio and Bishan.-List of DBSS...

DBSS Oct 2006 - Buying a new condominium design flat build by private developer


There are a number of eligibility conditions in order for a flat to be purchased. A buyer must be a Singaporean citizen
Citizenship
Citizenship is the state of being a citizen of a particular social, political, national, or human resource community. Citizenship status, under social contract theory, carries with it both rights and responsibilities...

, or P.R. and be 21 years of age and have a family. Non-citizens and singles are not allowed to purchase new HDB flats. Other requirements concern household status, time requirements, income
Income
Income is the consumption and savings opportunity gained by an entity within a specified time frame, which is generally expressed in monetary terms. However, for households and individuals, "income is the sum of all the wages, salaries, profits, interests payments, rents and other forms of earnings...

 and other special requirements. The apartment flats are typically sold on a 99-year lease-hold.
Eligibility to Acquire New Flats
New HDB Flat New DBSS Flat New EC Flat New Studio Apartment
Citizenship Applicant: Citizen
Family nucleus: At least another citizen or PR
Applicant: Citizen
Joint Applicant (if any): Related must be a Citizen; Non-related must be Citizen or PR
Age 21 years old 21 years old (35 for joint singles) 55 years old (Joint Applicant, if any: Related=21 years old; Non-related=35 years old
Family Nucleus Any of the following combinations:
• Applicant+Spouse+Children (if any)
• Applicant+Parents+Siblings (if any)
• Widowed/divorced applicant+Children under legal custody
• Applicant+fiance/fiancee
• Orphaned applicant+unmarried siblings
Any of the following combinations:
• Applicant+Spouse+Children (if any)
• Applicant+Parents+Siblings (if any)
• Widowed/divorced applicant+Children under legal custody
• Applicant+fiance/fiancee
• Orphaned applicant+unmarried siblings
• Orphaned applicant+single unrelated orphan
• Single applicant+another single person
Either:
• Applicant+Spouse
• Unmarried, divorced or widowed applicant
Gross Monthly Household Income Ceiling 2-room: $2,000
3-room (non-mature towns and estates): $3,000
3-room (mature towns and estates/Premium) and above: $10,000 ($15,000 for extended families)
$10,000 ($12,000 for extended families) $12,000 with tiered subsidies $8,000


With effect from August 15, 2011, the HDB revised upwards the monthly household income ceiling for the purchase of new flats from $8,000 to $10,000. The $8,000 income ceiling was implemented in 1994.

Resale flats


Existing flat owners are allowed to sell their flats on the open market to any eligible buyer at a mutually agreed price. While the HDB does not regulate these prices, the buyer and seller must declare the true resale price to the HDB. In addition, most flat owners may only sell their flat if they have met the Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) requirement, which was introduced to help reduce speculative activities. In 2010, these requirements were lengthened to help cool the heated property market at that time.
Minimum Occupation Period
Flat type MOP
1-Room/HUDC Flat Nil
Direct-purchase HDB/DBSS/Subsidised Resale Flat 5 years from date of purchase
SERS flat With portable SERS rehousing benefits: 5 years from date of purchase
Without portable SERS rehousing benefits: 7 years from date of selection; 5 years from date of purchase
Non-subsidised Resale Flat 1-5 years from date of resale dependent on sale date and type of loan taken (if any)


Under the current sales schemes, successful applicants for new BTO flats typically have to wait several years before moving in while the flats were built, since the commencement of construction can only occur when the BTO successfully attains 65~70% sales. Applicants who wish to move in immediately or earlier thus have to participate in the SBF exercise (although some flats may still be under construction) or go for Resale Flats.
HDB Sale of Flats programmes
Programmes Abbrev Start End Remarks
Registration for Flat RFS 1980s Feb 2002 Any surplus units from BTOs, balance BEs or
HDB buy-back schemes through balloting method
Walk In Selection
Walk In Selection
-Overview:The Walk-in-Selection / Balloting Exercise was a Housing and Development Board system that offers a convenient and efficient system that enables eligible flat buyers, particularly those in urgent need of accommodation, to book their choice apartment...

WIS Mar 2002 Feb 2007
Sale of Balance Flats E-Sale Apr 2007 -
Balloting Exercise BE Aug 1995 - Only available for initial large surplus units of SERS
Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme
The Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme, or SERS for short, is an urban redevelopment strategy employed by the Housing and Development Board in Singapore in maintaining and upgrading public housing flats in older estates in the city-state...

Build-To-Order (HDB) BTO Apr 2001 - Buying a new flat with a waiting period of 4 years
Design, Build and Sell Scheme
Design, Build and Sell Scheme
Design, Build and Sell Scheme was introduced by the Housing and Development Board in 2005. Flats built under the scheme are meant for public housing and developed by private developers. They are built with better designs and in sites such as Tampines, Ang Mo Kio and Bishan.-List of DBSS...

DBSS Oct 2006 - Buying a new condominium design flat build by private developer


Buyers are also subject to a set of eligibility conditions.
Eligibility to Acquire Resale Flats
Condition Public Scheme Fiancé(e) Scheme Single Singapore Citizen Scheme Joint Singles Scheme Non-Citizen Spouse Scheme Non-Citizen Family Scheme Orphans Scheme Conversion Scheme
Citizenship Applicant: Citizen
Family nucleus: At least another citizen or PR
Applicant and fiancé(e): Citizen or PR Applicant: Citizen Applicant: Citizen
Unmarried sibling: Citizen or PR
Applicant: Citizen
Family nucleus: At least another citizen or PR
Age 21 years old Singles/Divorcees: 35 years old
Widowed/Orphan: 21 years old
Spouse's social visit pass >6 months:21 years old
Spouse's social visit pass <6 months:35 years old
21 years old
Family Nucleus Any of the following combinations:
• Applicant+Spouse+Children (if any)
• Applicant+Parents+Siblings (if any)
• Widowed/divorced applicant+Children under legal custody
Applicant+fiancé(e) Applicant only Applicant+up to three other single joint applicants Applicant+non-citizen spouse Any of the following combinations:
• Applicant+non-citizen parents+non-citizen siblings (if any)
• Widowed/divorced applicant+non-citizen children under legal custody
Orphaned applicant+unmarried siblings Any of the following combinations:
• Applicant+Spouse+Children (if any)
• Applicant+Parents+Siblings (if any)
• Widowed/divorced applicant+Children under legal custody
Gross Monthly Household Income Ceiling No income ceiling unless applying for CPF Housing Grant and/or an HDB Loan

Pricing


Pricing of public housing flats are meant to be affordable, and are typically substantially cheaper than privately-built developments. For example, an HDB 4-room flat depending on age, environment and surrounding amenities can have a sale value of between S$
Singapore dollar
The Singapore dollar or Dollar is the official currency of Singapore. It is normally abbreviated with the dollar sign $, or alternatively S$ to distinguish it from other dollar-denominated currencies...

200,000 to above S$300,000 and an HUDC Executive maisonette above S$500,000. However, in contrast a privately developed condominium type housing can cost as much as S$1,000,000 and above.
List of average new & resale prices of Housing Development Board flats
Period Room Type Internal New Resale Remarks
sq m (Avg) S$ (Avg) S$ (Avg)
1970s 3 room 60 $15,000 - Construction cost-based pricing approach
4 room 75 $20,000 -
5 room 95 $30,000 -
1980s sharp rise@81 (a) 3 room 65 $50,000 - Construction cost-based and

land-based pricing approach
4 room 90 $80,000 -
5 room 115 $110,000 -
Executive 140 $140,000 -
1990s sharp rise@93 till 97 3 room 70 $120,000 $200,000 Construction cost-based and
market land-based pricing approach
4 room 95 $170,000 $270,000
5 room 125 $230,000 $350,000
Executive 145 $280,000 $420,000
2000s (b) 3 room 65 $110,000 $150,000
4 room 90 $180,000 $230,000
5 room 110 $240,000 $290,000
Executive 130 $300,000 $350,000
2007s sharp rise@2008 (c) 3 room 65 $140,000 $200,000 Construction cost-based and
market resale-based pricing approach
4 room 90 $230,000 $300,000
5 room 110 $290,000 $370,000
Executive 130 $350,000 $450,000
2010 (d) 3 room 65 $291,000 Median house price (including approximate transaction cost)
4 room 90 $376,300 $420,300
5 room 110 $448,700
Executive 130 $535,900
(a) Average floor sizes was increased for new flat built from year 1981.
(b) Average floor sizes was decreased for new flat built from year 2000 but with premium design finishing except 3-rm unit.
(c) Pricing increased in year 2008 are also due to rising construction cost from sand and concrete supply.
(d)Straits Times, 4 August 2010

Maintenance and renewal




Maintenance of the HDB's approximately 900,000 units largely falls under the Town Council
Town council
A town council is a democratically elected form of government for small municipalities or civil parishes. A council may serve as both the representative and executive branch....

s, which are not part of the HDB but which are formed under the Town Councils Act primarily with the purpose of maintaining the common areas of HDB flats and estates. Common areas would include the common corridors, void decks, lifts, water tanks, external lighting and the open spaces surrounding the estates, which are managed, maintained and improved on by the respective Town Councils. These Town Councils are formed by the respective political constituencies and do not necessarily follow HDB Town boundaries, hence a single HDB Town by be managed by multiple Town Councils.

Rental flats, on the other hand, are maintained directly by the HDB to ensure serviceability for the next occupant. The HDB is also the direct authority overseeing home renovation works, whereby while home owners engage third-party contractors, the HDB imposes strict renovation rules to ensure no structural damage and adherence to noise control during renovation works. The HDB also approves renovation contractor registrations to enforce quality control.

Large-scale improvement works to existing public housing developments were carried out in the form of various programmes under the Estate Renewal Strategy, beginning with the Main Upgrading Programme (MUP) since 1990. These help to bring common facilities up to standards with newer developments, and in some cases, to offer some improvements to individual units, such as the addition of reinforced bomb shelters which can double-up as an additional room during non-emergency periods. To date, close to 800 precincts has benefited from these schemes. While the majority of precincts were improved upon, some precincts were completely redeveloped under the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme
Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme
The Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme, or SERS for short, is an urban redevelopment strategy employed by the Housing and Development Board in Singapore in maintaining and upgrading public housing flats in older estates in the city-state...

 to better maximise the use of land. To date, 73 sites has been affected since the Scheme was introduced in 1995, affecting over 33,000 residential units.
HDB Upgrading programmes
Programmes Abbrev Start End Remarks
Main Upgrading Programme
Main Upgrading Programme
The Main Upgrading Programme, or MUP , was formally launched in July 1990, initiating a massive physical upgrading exercise for the thousands of flats built by the Housing and Development Board in Singapore.-History:...

MUP Jul 1990 - Interior upgrading programmes for flats built up to 1986, and
HIP which have not undergone MUP, with added optional improvements
Home Improvement Programme
Home Improvement Programme
The Home Improvement Programme , a new programme announced by HDB, during the National Day Rally in August 2007, is set to replace the Main Upgrading Programme . The HIP offers lessees a choice on the works they want to be included in the upgrading of their flats...

HIP Aug 2007 -
Interim Upgrading Programme IUP Aug 1993 Aug 2002 The common areas of a precinct were upgraded, landscape upgrading programmes stopped in flavour of IUP Plus
Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme
Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme
The Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme, or SERS for short, is an urban redevelopment strategy employed by the Housing and Development Board in Singapore in maintaining and upgrading public housing flats in older estates in the city-state...

SERS Aug 1995 - Flats built up to 1980 which have not undergone any type of upgrading programmes
Lift Upgrading Programme
Lift Upgrading Programme
Lift Upgrading Programme is a Singapore Housing and Development Board project which upgrades and improves the facilities of the lifts at HDB flats which became an issue in the 2006 general election. This project is for housing blocks built before the year 1990, which were built with lifts that...

LUP Sep 2001 - Direct level access to lift for flats built up to 1990,
IUP Plus - a combination of two programmes, IUP and LUP
Interim Upgrading Programme Plus IUP Plus May 2002 -
Neighbourhood Renewal Programme
Neighbourhood Renewal Programme
The Neighbourhood Renewal Programme , was introduced by HDB during the National Day Rally in August 2007, is set to replace the IUP Plus. It focuses on block and neighbourhood improvements, and is fully funded by the government. Flats built up to 1989 which have not undergone the Main Upgrading...

NRP Aug 2007 - This would include MUP/HIP (interior) and IUP Plus (landscape) as it focus on block and neighbourhood improvements

External links