Home ownership is still a "key social pillar": Khaw Boon Wan

Home ownership remains Singapore's "key social pillar," National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said on Wednesday, in a blog post marking the 50th anniversary of the Housing Board's 'Home Ownership for the People Scheme.'

In his post, Mr Khaw looked back at how far Singapore had come since Feb 12, 1964, when the scheme was launched. Early housing estates such as Toa Payoh and Queenstown might seem basic today but were considered "very progressive in their time," he noted. And the HDB remains forward-looking in its designs, for instance, all new Build-To-Order projects will incorporate eco-features such as energy-saving lighting in common areas and eco-pedestals in bathrooms.

But more important than the hardware is the heartware, and home ownership "gives Singaporeans a tangible stake in our country, financial security, and a critical sense of belonging," said Mr Khaw.

He noted that former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew had envisioned making Singapore a nation of home owners, and many pioneers such as then National Development Minister Lim Kim San helped turn his vision into reality. "Once we were an island of squatters and slums. Today, over 80 per cent of our people live in good quality HDB flats, with nine in ten owning their own flats."

"Fifty years later, a third generation of Singaporeans is now embarking on their own homeownership journey," said Mr Khaw.

He noted that 97 per cent of Singaporeans who took part in last year's Our Singapore Conversation said home ownership was still important to them.

"So the core purpose of housing the nation remains the same. HDB's mission remains critical and relevant. We will continue to help Singaporeans realise their dreams of owning a home."

He concluded his message by including a YouTube video link of the 1988 episode of a television documentary, 'Homes for Our People', hoping that it would "re-ignite some nostalgia and remind us how far we have come."