HDB focus on couples, needy and elderly folk

Senior citizens in Bukit Batok Central.
Senior citizens in Bukit Batok Central.PHOTO: ST FILE

Having met demand for HDB flats, the Housing Board will now make sure young couples and the lower-income get the help they need to own their homes.

The elderly, too, will get help moving to smaller homes as well as moving about more easily at home and in their estates.

The Ministry of National Development (MND), which oversees the Housing Board, outlined these plans yesterday in its addenda to last Friday's President's address.

Most importantly, public housing will continue to be inclusive.

Said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong: "We will ensure that our housing policies continue to help young couples start a family, uplift the lower-income and vulnerable to a better future, and enable our elderly to age gracefully."

He added: "We remain committed to helping Singaporeans own their homes and keeping housing affordable for future generations."

For instance, home owners who sold and then rented HDB flats can get government help to own a home again, under the Fresh Start Housing Scheme. More public rental flats will be built.

MND will also look at how to support other vulnerable groups such as divorcees and low-income singles.

There will be more shared spaces for people such as town plazas. And to encourage different generations to bond, the ministry will look into siting childcare and eldercare centres together.

Also on the agenda: more parks, boosting construction productivity, rejuvenating older estates and helping local farms.

Announcing plans, too, to transform the urban landscape yesterday was the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR).

To improve the living environment, MEWR will tighten standards for vehicular and industrial emissions to reduce air pollution.

Food hygiene regulations will be made stricter too.

Also up for review are Singapore's Water Master Plan, to secure Singapore's water supply for the future, and the role of hawker centres.

MEWR will help industries go green and be more energy-efficient.

The push for energy efficiency is to meet Singapore's international climate change commitments, following its adoption last month of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The National Climate Change Secretariat, which is under the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), will encourage the use of more efficient power-generating methods, and energy-efficient buildings, transport and appliances.

The Smart Nation Programme Office, which is also under the PMO, will focus on how technology can help in daily life, like tracking the use of energy in a smart home.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 22, 2016, with the headline 'HDB focus on couples, needy and elderly folk'. Print Edition | Subscribe