Fresh Start scheme open for application

Applications to be on the Fresh Start Housing Scheme are now open for families who once owned a flat but now live in public rental units.

The scheme allows the families, who must have at least a child below the age of 16, to apply for a new Housing Board flat with a grant of up to $35,000, the Ministry of National Development and HDB announced in a statement yesterday.

After getting on the scheme, families have a year to apply for a new flat in the HDB's regular Build-To-Order or Sale of Balance Flats launches.

The scheme was first mentioned in last year's National Day Rally, with details given in this year's Committee of Supply debate. During the rally, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he was concerned about the future of a group of families who, without help, may be permanently out of reach of getting their own flat.

The scheme has several conditions. For instance, at least one of the applicants must have been in stable employment for the previous 12 months. The family must also be assessed by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF). The MSF and HDB will do regular checks to ensure the families are on track.

In a blog post, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said: "Some second-timer public rental families are ready and hoping to own a home again - they are in stable employment, manage their finances well, and have a stable home environment."

But they might find it challenging to buy a flat, he added.

The scheme helps by letting them buy a two-room flexi flat on a shorter lease and giving them another HDB concessionary rate loan and a new Fresh Start Housing Grant of up to $35,000.

Mr Wong said: "We are starting with a more targeted approach. So the number of Fresh Start families may not be large to begin with."

Interested families must apply and be placed on the scheme before applying for a flat. They can do so on the HDB website, at HDB branches or at Toa Payoh HDB Hub.

Mr Wong has also appointed a Fresh Start Advisory Committee to support outreach efforts and give guidance on implementation.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 02, 2016, with the headline 'Fresh Start scheme open for application'. Print Edition | Subscribe