Petition to ease single parents' housing woes

The Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) is launching a petition to lobby the Government to give more help to single parents facing housing woes.

The women's advocacy group is starting a petition tomorrow, asking for a change to several policies in order to help single parents buy or rent Housing Board flats.

The biggest change that it is pushing is to raise the $1,500 monthly income cap so that more families can qualify to rent flats from HDB directly. It is also asking the Government to allow divorced parents who have custody of children to be allowed to rent from the HDB after the matrimonial flats are sold, without having to wait five years.

Unwed mothers with children should also be considered a family for the purpose of applying for HDB housing, Aware added.

These moves will give children of divorced or single parents "a chance to build stable family lives", said Ms Jolene Tan, Aware's head of advocacy and research.

"We hope to get 1,000 signatures from those belonging to single-parent families," she added.

The petition goes online tomorrow at Aware's website, along with a video of single parents talking about their housing woes.

Aware is holding a closed-door discussion on Wednesday with single parents to collect their signatures for the petition. It plans to hand it to the Prime Minister's Office, the Ministry of National Development, which oversees housing policies, and the Ministry of Social and Family Development, which is responsible for social policies on vulnerable families.

The petition by Aware to be launched tomorrow comes three months after it published a study in February which found that 21 of 55 single mothers it interviewed could not get public housing despite help from an MP.

Mr Saktiandi Supaat, an MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, said that about 3 per cent to 5 per cent of the housing problem cases he sees during his weekly Meet-the-People Sessions are from single parents. "The issues vary, including appealing for reduction in rental fees and also appealing for a rental flat for some of the single parents," he said.

The first-term MP, who spoke about the housing woes of single parents in Parliament during the Budget debate in March, supports the idea of giving more housing help to single parents.

"It allows local grassroots and help to be more available and targeted for the children, and it allows the parent to look for a job with fewer worries," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 14, 2017, with the headline 'Petition to ease single parents' housing woes'. Print Edition | Subscribe