Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Help the singles with affordable housing

Letter from Joseph Ang

Under the existing HDB policy, singles are not allowed to buy or rent flats directly from the Housing and Development Board (HDB), unless they partner with another single person and apply under the joint-singles scheme. In times of such economic uncertainty, when the economy has not fully rebounded, should such a policy be re-visited, so that singles can remain independent and maintain their sense of dignity?

I hope HDB will re-consider this policy and allow individual singles to rent or buy directly from HDB with minimal waiting time between application and allotment of flats (3 – 6 months at most). The sense of security of having roof over the head is very important to all Singaporeans – whether they choose to marry or remain single.

I personally know of a number of cases where singles rent from the open market as their extended family is not able to accommodate them for various reasons both personal and economic. The open-market room rental which is $450 per month, is very high to a single who is earnings may be limited. Many usually will suffocate for having to pay for public transportation, meals, and other daily needs, on top of the rent from the open market. And what’s worst is they don;t know where to go for help. The families in crisis can go to the family service centres, but where do the singles go to?

Being single is by no means easy, but it is nevertheless a lifestyle we have chosen for ourselves.

While I appreciate the pro-family policies of the government, the government should not forget singles in the process of being pro-family. Singles after all, do contribute to the economy of Singapore as well. Despite this, we are discriminated as ‘third-class’ citizens, and treated worse than a foreign worker, who at least has a dormitory to go to at the end of his hard day’s work.

With only a single income (as compared to at least double incomes in a family) and the ever rising valuations and cash-over-valuations, many singles will find it extremely difficult to buy a HDB flat from the open market.

Of course, HDB has the joint-singles policy for HDB rental flats; but what happens if a single person is not able to find another suitable person to co-share the rental flat with him? Should he be homeless because of this?

I personally know of quite a number of singles who are already at their wit’s end. Most are earning less than $1700 per month. How can they survive if they continue to rent from the open market? What about the singles who earn even lesser?

The newspapers reported recently that there are two block of flats made available for the foreign workers who will be coming here – presumably to work in the Integrated resorts. It does not make sense that foreigners will have ready HDB flats to move in to when they come to Singapore, but a single Singaporean like me is denied affordable housing.

The government should stop only talking about the ‘Singaporean first’ policy, but more importantly make it a practice – whether they be in a family or are just singles by choice!

Joseph Ang


Anonymous said...

REX comments as follows,

I think the mentality of the government has always been to protect first, the organism rather than the parts that make up the organism.

The government thinks in dollar and cents not human lives. It looks at everything from dollar incremental benefit-to-the-country perspective, not necessarily to Singaporeans in the short term. They think they are responsible for Singapore in the long term, not for Singaporeans, in the short or medium term. It has been like this since 1959.

So, if 10000 foreigners are required to build the IR's to reinvent Sentosa and go along the official lines of creating 10,000 future jobs (that's what they say), then, it is more important to find housing for the 10000 foreingers than even 20,000 homeless the likes of Joseph Ang's.

Now whether it is right to protect the organism first before its parts, it is highly debatable. In chinese, country means 国家. 国 comes before 家. This is how they think i believe.


Anonymous said...

Rex's first and last paragraphs are very profound and gets to the heart of the matter.

Is the organism (country) greater than the parts (citizens or people) that make up the organism?

Let's start with the Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of USA.

- one of the most famous speeches in American history

" ... that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom.

And that government: OF THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE, shall not perish from the earth. "


America's brand of democracy places the people before the country. Because the people is the country.

You do not discriminate amongst the people.

In World War 2, the world fought over this very subtle issue. The issue was Fascism - where the needs of the country overrides the needs of the individual.

A liberal democrat has no hesitation saying "the needs of the one, outweighs the needs of the many"

Likewise, the fascists has no hesitation saying "the needs of the many, outweighs the needs of the few." The fascists' mind always thinks that he is part of the many.

Fascism is all about the supremacy of the state. And the willingness to sacrifice the citizens to achieve glory for the country.

The final days before the defeat of Nazi Germany. Hitler sent old men and young boys into battle rather than surrender.

Does this logo look familiar to you?


Anonymous said...

The housing issue of singles is probably one of the hundreds of issues facing the govt.

When faced with many issues, obviously the first thing govt do, or even individuals will do, is to prioritise them to be resolved. After all, time and resources needed to resolve issues are limited, so these will be allocated per the priority list.

If the govt is not seen to be doing much so far about the singles housing or as per Joseph's concerns, it means that this is low on their priority list.

If the govt allocate flats for foreign workers of IRs, it means this issue is high on their priority list.

These are realities for which singles or non singles need to face. If not, vote in a govt (if there is one) who will take care of their concerns.

Anonymous said...

Money, costs... these are the driving philosophy for Singapore Inc.

And Singapore Inc is just an island with human beings comming together for economic reasons only. A Singaporean is defined as anyone working here.. not living or dying.
In fact if you are living here, you pay and pay.. and pay again when you die.

I agree with "Rex".. and I am sorry to hear about Joseph's housing problems.. it is a nasty administration that you face.
They are very insecure.
They feel that if they show compassion or ready to help, they will be flooded with endless singles and abuse of the system.

We are not a nation and will never be.. Joseph, my best wishes to you.

Anonymous said...

widow or widower without kid, also not eligible to own flat.
how could the govt said singaporeans come first.

Anonymous said...

Who said S'poreans come first?

HDB flats meant to be demolished end up becoming quarters for IRs foreign "talents" but homeless S'poreans still homeless, low income S'poreans still waiting to have a rented HDB roof over their heads.

Anonymous said...

Singles also need to work and contribute to society, and take care of parents financially. We have no lesser commitment than married couples. But what makes them think that we can afford resale flat with solely one person's income?

Anonymous said...

Singles are meant to be 'born losers' by the Singaporean standard; if you are a loser how can you expect to be heard?

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