This is an edited excerpt from the blog by Chua Mui Hoong. The state is closing its door once more in the face of unwed mums who need help with affordable housing.
Appeals to the Government to relax its stance have been made for decades. HDB says it does accede to appeals by single mums to buy or rent HDB flats, but it is on a case-by-case basis. In the last few years, about 20 per cent have got Yes answers. But this still leaves the majority of single mums with kids in a potentially homeless situation for years.
I've long learnt to recognise that when the Singapore Government digs in its heels, there's not very much that activists can do to shift the ground to win the argument. It's time people who care about the issue go the next step and band together to provide a solution for single mums. Don't rely on the Government. Rely on each other.
In Japan, Ms Megumi Katanuma got a divorce in 2011 and had problems finding a place to live with her two teenage kids. Her solution: start a shared house where other single mums can pay rent for room and childcare services. She and the other mums live in a house with four bedrooms and a living room with kitchen.
Can single mums get together to rent a flat or house? Can agencies help match them? This helps reduce rental costs, and promotes peer-help.
Next, start-ups and app developers, here's a crying social need that could do with your digital matching skills. Match single mums with kids who need housing, to kind people out there willing to rent out their spare bedroom or spare apartment to these folks. Help single mums find each other to share a whole flat rental. Create an Airbnb for single mums with kids.
Next, consider a micro-financing model to help these single mums.
Set up an organisation and raise funds to help single mums with kids find affordable housing. When the Government says No, it's time to stop flogging a dead horse and time to turn to those who can better offer solutions: the community. In other words, ourselves.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 05, 2017, with the headline 'Forget HDB. Time for civil society to help single mums'. Print Edition | Subscribe
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