Mr Chua Kheng Wee Louis: As we think about our new way forward, I find it timely to bring up the Adjournment Motion that I have moved last November on supporting diverse aspirations through rental housing. If anything, I am glad that my views on how this policy will strengthen communities as opposed to weakening them, have sparked conversations within and beyond this House from online discussions to forums and news articles.
Meanwhile, however, many of my residents continue to struggle with seeking their temporary home with their existing rental schemes, be it the family who applied for PPHS, only to be unsuccessful for five consecutive times, or the family who meets the stringent eligibility criteria and was even successful in applying for a public rental flat, only to be told that there are many applicants on the waiting list and of long wait times.
Hence, I would like to humbly request once again that the Government significantly increase the stock of rental flats across flat sizes, thereby creating a viable and expanded public rental scheme with an emphasis on ensuring that our lower- to middle-income households’ needs are well looked after.
Perhaps we could also explore expanding our notion of what it means to have homeownership via a rent-to-buy model.
This scheme aims to ease the transition from renting to buying a home by providing subsidised rent. This is not a new idea and in fact, has been adopted in several parts of the world such as the Rent to Own scheme in Wales or the Rent to Buy scheme in the UK.
If home ownership is a cornerstone of this Government’s housing policy, enabling residents the option to buy the same house after renting it for certain number of years does seem like a viable solution. A solution might be for HDB to build more flats and allocate a portion of units for rent-to-buy units instead of just limiting all rental flats to 1- or 2-room flats.
This has the potential to concurrently address two systemic socio-economic concerns, which are eliminating stigma against residents living in rental flats and to reduce the burden on the next generation of Singaporeans who could have freed up their finances on housing to explore more daring career choices and/or entrepreneurial pursuits.
8 March 2022
Ministry of National Development