Housing and development, in any country, is among the most significant factors that need to be looked at and is a major indicator of a country’s progress and success. Housing policy and its development in Singapore is looked after by the Housing and Development Board (HBD) which works under the Ministry of National Development, Singapore. The HBD is responsible for social housing management and development in Singapore and has been doing a good job at it. Singapore is now including in the few Asian countries that successfully provide affordable houses to the population.
Success of the public housing schemes in Singapore is evident in the fact that public estates house nearly 85% of the population. Housing rights are fully granted to the citizens of Singapore such that even the poorest 20% have equal access as the wealthy, to the public housing opportunities, unlike the poor in many other countries who are often homeless. By 1980s, nearly all the poor living in slums or squatters had public houses to live in. This evidence of housing access to the poor reflects the success of the housing policies in Singapore.
Strengths of public housing in Singapore:
Affordable housing units The Florence Residences top
Making housing affordable in Singapore includes financial considerations; cheap and affordable units, and the physical; having minimum requirement of physical development so that it is less costly to live in.
Facilities and services
The physical improvement in the décor, services and facilities in the housing units are a major attraction the many people who choose to live in them.
The new towns being developed now have tall and high density buildings. A town of approximately 650 ha now houses a population of 250 000 people. This allows ample amount of space for the growth of facilities that need to be provided in residential areas; schools, parks, sport complexes etc.
Challenges in housing and development in Singapore:
Where some elderly prefer to live independently, there are still many who choose to live with their extended family. The housing authorities must ensure that families have the opportunity to stay close to the elderly in their family if they wish to, even if it may not be in the same household.
Low economic value of public flats compared to private property
HBD flats cannot be bought with the intent of investment. They can only be owned by Singaporeans and other permanent residents. This may make people more likely to prefer private leasehold property over public houses.
With the challenges it faced and the progress it has made over the years in mind, Singapore housing policies can be seen as a successful attempt at accommodating its large population. The HBD, in fact, can be seen as one of the most successful public housing schemes. It needs to continue to grow and adapt with the socioeconomic and political changes. The increasing demand of better facilities and living standards in public houses also requires an effort by the authorities if they wish maintain their position and importance.