Housing for All (Almost)
HBD and MND have continued to make reassuring pledges that there would be housing for all, it is just a matter of time. The pledge that singles above 35 and earning less than $5,000 a month can buy BTO 2BR is a long awaited one for singles. The rationale is that HDB is for Singaporeans and they should not be deprived of a privilege of owning a BTO HDB flat and then unlocking its value further down the line after 5 years, assuming the MOP would not be changed soon.
However, if Singapore is into a pro-local population growth and not depend on incoming foreign talents and workers to boost the population to 6.9 million in 2030, should singles be given any privileges at all in BTO housing? There is no right answer to this but when married couples are waiting impatiently to buy BTO, priority in building the type of flats should be geared towards newly married couples out to get their first nest. Singles have a right to a HDB BTO, but as they are not contributing to TFR, they can wait. HDB should get its head right on this, and the general population must understand it. HDB is for families, better if multi-generational, unless its kampong-to-flat 60-70s ethos is to be discarded.
Dropping the price of BTO in new estates is another pledge after that claim of BTO delinked from resale HDB prices. It remains to be seen if the price of new flats would drop from 5.5 years to 4 years of mean annual income of flat applicants. If HDB goes back to its origins of spartan homes, this drop in price is natural. HDB is for basic housing, a roof over a family’s heads, so re-steering HDB back into its humble solid public good roots is laudable despite critics surely complaining that it is regressive. There is a tradeoff. If the middle income want stylish homes and chances of better capital appreciation, they can opt for condominiums, executive or private.
If HDB is meant as a home and not an investment income, then the government and its HDB should have the political will to stop the policy of HDB being rented out for income. Setting quotas on number of foreigners renting HDB flats in an estate is not enough. Furthermore, the HDB should rescind its ruling that owners of HDB can own private property. No Golden Goose for HDB owners – again this falls in line with the ethos of bringing HDB back to its beginnings. Basic, solid and not-for-profit. Not-for-profit applies both to HDB selling it at “market-cost” rather than “building cost plus” and HDB owners renting it out.
These are among some of the reviews that HDB pledged it would do. All have tradeoffs and a mature adult would weigh them out that some would benefit him, others might not, depending if he is a buyer, seller, investor etc. If HDB can sort out most of the public housing concerns of young Singaporeans i.e. get it “fast”, get it “cheap”, get it with transport and amenities nearby, the government is going to score in the next GE. If.