Based on my interactions with my friends and clients that are singles, it is disheartening to see the new “hostel-like” public housing model for singles that was recently unveiled by the HDB.
Pictures of shared facilities and private rooms have been compared to army camps, foreign worker dormitories, and cramped Hong Kong apartments.
Like it or not, HDB is an experience that gives most Singaporeans a sense of stakeholding in the country and a stepping board for the next milestone in life.
Many of us grew up in such HDBs and aspire to get our own when the time comes. However, the recent controversy raises a deeper question, do singles, regardless of their income level, are being put in a disadvantage when it comes to public housing?
At first glance, it may seem like there are numerous housing options for single Singaporeans, from Minister Desmond Lee’s speech to put 100,000 keys in people’s pockets, to bigger subsidies of up to $80,000 through CPF grants that will enable more Singaporeans to buy their first home. But is that really the case?
Many millennials moved out of their family homes during the pandemic to have more personal space, even renting when a private home proved unattainable.
Personally I believe strongly that it is time to review the outdated HDB policy that prioritizes housing options for the married couples under 35.
Practically speaking, most Singaporeans get married only in their late 20s to 30s and many already see obtaining a new home as a must have for settling down.
So why is BTO still retained as a carrot to encourage more to marry?
Couples tying the knot also have to wait years before finally getting their flat. That long drawn process from balloting successfully for a BTO and then wait for the HDB to be built creates unnecessary delays and push back family plans, including having children.
Offering a home earlier to eligible singles could help young Singaporeans get over the hurdle of home ownership quicker and provide a more stable environment before settling down.
I believe that HDB flats should be open to all Singaporeans, regardless of their marital status.
Let’s not forget that beyond a home, HDB is also a solid investment asset class allowing Singaporeans to take part in the country’s growth.
In conclusion, let’s not discriminate against singles, it’s time to give singles the same opportunities as everyone else.