A place to call their own, finally

Madam Selvaranee in her two-room flat in Senja Road, which she shares with her two children. She received $60,000 in housing grants, almost halving the effective cost of her flat.
Madam Selvaranee in her two-room flat in Senja Road, which she shares with her two children. She received $60,000 in housing grants, almost halving the effective cost of her flat.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Last March, Madam Selvaranee Kanakasabai, 38, and her two teenage children finally moved into a home of their own, after years of living in rented rooms and interim flats.

The 38-year-old single parent applied for a new two-room flat in Senja Road in 2014, under a Sale of Balance Flats exercise.

Initially, she had hoped to get a three-room flat.

"It would have been nice to have another room for the children, since they are grown-up now," she said. Her daughter is aged 16 and her son, 15.

Given her monthly income of $1,500 as an administrative assistant, she was advised to apply for a two-room unit instead.

The unit she chose cost about $130,000.

Her income meant that she qualified for the maximum Additional CPF Housing Grant of $40,000, and the maximum Special Housing Grant of $20,000 - almost halving the effective cost of her flat.

"I didn't fork out any cash because it was covered by my CPF," she said.

The family collected the keys early last year, and moved into the new flat in March.

At first, the flat came with a plain concrete floor. But after some help from the HDB to do the required screeding, thefamily put in wood laminate flooring for a more pleasant feel to their new home.

"I do like it, though the kitchen area is rather small and narrow for us," said Madam Selvaranee.

Previously, the family had been living in a three-room interim flat in Dover for about half a year.

That flat had a bigger kitchen, but it was also shared with another family. Madam Selvaranee's family had one bedroom and shared the living room and kitchen.

Before that, the family had shared another interim flat, in Taman Jurong, for more than three years.

The new flat's location in Bukit Panjang is a plus. "My mum's house is nearby. It's very convenient for me and my children to visit her," said Madam Selvaranee.

But, above all, she and her children are glad they no longer have to share a flat with others.

"We are very happy that we finally got a place all to ourselves, after so many years," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 04, 2016, with the headline 'A place to call their own, finally'. Print Edition | Subscribe