Over $1b given to low-income to buy HDB flats

MORE than $1 billion in grants has been given out by the Government to help low-income households get on the property ladder by buying their first HDB flat.

This has benefited close to 60,000 first-timer households since 2006, the Housing Board said in a statement to The Straits Times.

There are two types of HDB housing grants available to citizens who earn less and whose needs are seen as greater when it comes to securing a permanent roof over their heads.

For instance, the Additional Housing Grant (AHG), introduced in 2006, gives up to $40,000 if the applicant's household income is less than $1,500 a month.

This grant, which can be used to buy either a new flat from the HDB or a resale unit in the open market, has been disbursed to 58,845 households as of April this year, totalling $1.1 billion.

The other scheme, dubbed the Special Housing Grant (SHG), was implemented in 2011 as a supplement to the AHG.

To be used only for flats bought directly from the HDB, this grant was meant to lessen the sting of the rising cost of living for poorer Singaporeans, property analysts said.

Under the SHG for example, applicants earning less than $1,500 get $20,000.

The HDB said 1,238 households had taken advantage of the $13.15 million given out by the government scheme.

These figures do not include other schemes such as the family or single grants.

Property firm PropNex's chief executive Mohamed Ismail said the grants have provided a yearly average of 8,000 households a foothold in the property market.

He said: "The two schemes have given lower-income households a head start.

"Their flats, which are the same quality of product as everyone else's, will see similar capital appreciation, and effectively ease wealth distribution among citizens."

Mr Nicholas Mak, head of research at property consultancy firm SLP International, said it was perhaps timely to raise the income level of the schemes to include even more people.

"This will cast a wider net and capture more groups that are facing the reality of a higher cost of living," he said.


More low-income households buying flats with Govt grants

More low-income households buying flats with Govt grants - See more at: http://stprdstaff.straitstimes.com/premium/singapore/story/more-low-inco...